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Making Healthy Eating Choices at Your Next Summer Cookout

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As soon as that first grill is fired up on the first really warm day of the year, barbeque season unofficially begins — and what a glorious season it is! Fresh produce and tasty protein cooked over an open flame while the birds chirp in the background and good friends enjoy a cool drink on the porch . . . sign us up!

If you’re psyched to enjoy all the Summer cookouts you can this season, but still want to maintain healthy eating habits, we’ve got some great ideas and substitutions to keep you satisfied and happy from Memorial Day until Labor Day.

Healthy Eating: Cookout Main Dishes

While the typical BBQ fare of hot dogs covered in condiments, sizzling steaks, and greasy burgers are anything but low fat, it’s actually quite easy to make some main dish substitutions that are still delicious.

Turkey burgers, chicken kebabs, and portobello “steaks” are all great, lower-fat options, and when you marinate them beforehand, you can get a ton of flavor without a lot of added fat! If you’re grilling chicken, opt for skinless chicken breasts, and if you’re cooking pork, pick up “loin” or “round” cuts (they’re lower in fat), and make sure to let the fat drip off.

Healthy Eating: Cookout Side Swaps

Typical BBQ sides like potato salad, macaroni salad, and even coleslaw can often come with a lot of added fat (thanks in most part to mayonnaise), but there are some additional sides that are not only tasty, but lower in fat, like bean salad, fruit salad, and fresh salad greens loaded with additional grilled vegetables. In fact, grilling up a bunch of vegetables — like peppers, onions, and sweet potatoes — and offering them up as a side is a great way for everyone to get a nice serving of vitamins and minerals.

Additionally, consider side-stepping those bowls of high-fat chips and ranch dressing and opt for pretzels and hummus instead. Ignore the soda and sugary juices and go for natural seltzers or water infused with fruit. When in doubt, opt for fresh, natural foods that aren’t covered in sauces, butter, or oil, and offer to bring homemade low-fat desserts so everyone can join you in a healthy indulgence.

No matter what time of year it is, eating for weight loss can take a lot of hard work and planning — but in the end, it’s worth it.

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