Sunday, July 10, 2011

Is There Really Such a Thing as a Healthy Barbecue?

It is summer, and I know there is one question on all our minds: Hot dog vs. Hamburger? It’s barbecue season and that can trigger all sorts of anxiety when you’re trying to watch what you eat. But short of locking yourself up indoors, how can you still have all the summer fun, but yet stay on track with your diet? The key is knowing what your options are.

It’s all in the bun: Did you know that you could rack up up to 200 calories from the burger or hot dog bun alone? This is why it is necessary to be really careful when selecting barbecue buns. If you can, try to stick to options that say “whole grain” in the list of ingredients. Otherwise, you can substitute a regular bun with any of the following options: English muffin, Sandwich Thins, or a whole wheat wrap or pita. This could help cut your bun calories in half.

Dress it up low-cal style: Another big offender that is easily overlooked is the dressing. At barbecues, we use everything from mayo to ketchup to mustard, but what should we be using? I suggest either using just a drop of the items listed (as much as your pinky finger to be exact), or switch to something else completely. I know I tend to talk about jerk sauce a lot on this website, but it is such a great substitute for some of the other sauces. For example, one tablespoon of mayonnaise contains about 50 calories, while one teaspoon of thick jerk marinade contains only 5 calories. And you probably won’t use the whole teaspoon for one grilled piece of meat.

Don’t do the mystery meat: The big problem with a hot dog is that we really don’t know what’s in it. They say it’s pork, but sometimes you eat it and you’re like “That sure does not taste like the pork I know”. Hot dogs are becoming more and more processed, and so when you’re selecting what to eat at a barbecue, it may be better to go for the burger. At least burgers are less mysterious, and have very many lean options. However, if you must have a hot dog, and if you have options, there are now lean sausage versions like chicken and turkey that can help bring your calorie count down. I’ve seen lean turkey sausages with about 150 calories. Aside from burgers and hot dogs, it would be even better if you just grilled whole chunks of real meat like chicken breast or salmon. Marinade them and grill. Yum…

Veg it up: Another reason why choosing a burger might be better than a hot dog? You can fill your burger with loads of veggies. But besides the veggies you put in your bun, grilling vegetables gives them that awesome smoky taste. You can basically grill anything from broccoli to tomatoes to peppers. Rather than stuff yourself with meat, shake it up a bit and add in some veggie options.

I know you might think it would be hard to change from the standard barbecue choices, but it really should not be too difficult. If you’re not sure what they’ll be serving at a barbecue, ask if you can contribute. I’ve never seen a barbecue host that said no when asked if a guest could bring something. As I always say, when invited to eat, bring something you can eat. That eliminates the problem of not having any options, or having the wrong ones.

What are your secrets for getting through summer barbecues unscathed?

Cheers Eights & Weights!

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1 comment:

  1. grilled veggies instead of protein X_X
    that will be a huge challenge
    i am a big hot dog fan
    its my weakness
    hot day and i am hungry and i walk past a stand, its like its calling out to me.


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