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Live Healthy:
Make Your Summer Barbecue Healthier!

Grilled foods tend to be full of flavor but lower in fat than sautéed or fried foods. This makes grilling a great option for healthy summer eating.  Take these five steps to make your barbecues healthier:

  1. Choose meats wisely
  2. Boost flavor, not fat
  3. Add veggies
  4. Beware of sides
  5. Watch your portions

1. Choose Meats Wisely

Swap a hamburger or hot dog for a leaner option, such as:

  • Chicken—opt for skinless chicken breasts
  • Fish—try tuna, salmon, or sea bass
  • Ground turkey—can be used for savory turkey burgers

2. Boost Flavor, Not Fat

Marinades, rubs and grilling sauces are an excellent way to add flavor, but many bottled dipping sauces are loaded with sodium and high-fructose corn syrup. Instead, try making your own, healthier barbecue sauce. We like this recipe from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which you can use as a marinade or grilling sauce:

Spicy Southern Barbecued Chicken Recipe

  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger, grated

Combine all ingredients except chicken in saucepan. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Yield: 6 servings
Serving size: ½ breast or 2 small drumsticks
Calories:  176
Total Fat:  4 g
Saturated Fat:  0 g
Cholesterol:  81 mg
Sodium:  199 mg
Total Fiber:  1 g
Protein:  27 g
Carbohydrates:  7 g
Potassium:  392 mg
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, NHLBI. Revised May 2008. Retrieved from:

3. Add Veggies

Veggies are packed with nutrients your body needs. Add some tasty, healthy veggies to your next barbeque!  Not sure how?  Try kebabs! Kebabs are a great, easy way to mix fresh seasonal vegetables in with lean meats. Cut up vegetables of your choice and place them on a skewer. We like:

  • Bell peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Squash

4. Beware of Sides

Many common barbeque side dishes are loaded with fat, sugar, salt and calories. To give your favorite sides a healthy makeover:

  • Have a green salad on the side—it’s another great way to add veggies!
  • Swap mayonnaise in pasta or potato salad for low-fat yogurt or a vinaigrette
  • Use whole wheat pasta rather than white pasta
  • Add lemon juice and vinegar to coleslaw for flavor

5. Watch Your Portions

Choosing lean meats and adding veggies is a great start, but even too much of healthy foods can be a problem. Be mindful of how much you eat, and avoid going back for seconds. 

Now that you know how to make your barbecue healthier, Pair Up with your friends and family over and celebrate summer! 
Note:  If you have special dietary needs, talk to your doctor or a dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet.

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