Healthy Alternatives for Grilling Out

Tips for cutting fat, not flavor.

As summer ramps up, evenings are filled with the smell of hot charcoal and grilled meats. But for those of us watching our waistlines, the lure of burgers, brats and grandma’s potato salad can be overwhelming. Don’t get rid of the grill just yet, though. We’ve got some simple swaps that can save the backyard barbecue while keeping your diet intact.

Leaner Meats
You can cut fat from your burgers right off the bat: use the leanest ground beef you can find, like ground sirloin, and mix it together with an egg and some chopped onions to keep the meat moist on the grill. Or, you can skip the red meat all together and try tasty turkey burgers or marinated portabella mushroom caps.

Smarter Sides
Everyone loves a delicious mac and cheese or a creamy pasta salad, but these sides can really pile on the calories. Since you’ve already got the grill fired up, toss on some veggies. Corn, peppers, squash, asparagus and eggplant are easy to marinate (just add a little oil and salt and pepper) and can amp up the flavor of any meal.

Quick and Healthy Snacks
Craving a crunch? Don’t just fall back on chips and dips. You can get the same effect with crunchy baby vegetables like carrots and celery. And by pairing them with flavorful, healthy dips like hummus, you can get all the zing you’re looking for without all the saturated fat.

Naturally Sweet Desserts
You don’t need ice cream or brownies to round out your barbecue, especially in the summertime. Fresh fruits are in season and can give your sweet tooth the relief it needs. And you don’t need to get too fancy here: a simple bowl of berries or a quick cobbler always fits the bill.

Lighter Drinks
Any dieter will tell you, it’s not all about what you eat. What you’re drinking on hot days is just as important. Cut back on liquid calories by avoiding sugary drinks like sodas and swap them out for sparkling water or unsweetened iced tea.

Overall, grilling smarter is easier than you think. By subbing in a few healthy alternatives, you can get your summer feasts back on track.

Veggie skewers on a hot grill.

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