Skip the chips, crackers and bread: Refined carbohydrates are the worst things you can eat because they offer little satisfaction, loads of calories and dangerous insulin spikes. BBQs are filled with wonderful food, so do yourself a favor and save your calories for the really good stuff. If you must have a bun, choose to use the whole wheat kind. Filling up on high glycemic index foods like potato chips, ice cream, sodas and full-calorie beers spikes insulin and opens the floodgates for fat storage.
Grill lean meats: Lowering your fat content can decrease your overall calorie intake. Eating grilled meats is good, just be sure to remove any excess fat and be mindful how and what they’re grilled with. Choose the leanest cuts of beef, chicken and pork and do not use heavy marinades or sugar filled BBQ sauces. Instead, try dry rubs or marinating in a light dressing such as Greek vinaigrette.
Portion control: There are a variety of strategies for cutting back at the grill. For example, eat ¼ lb. burgers (made with extra-lean ground sirloin) instead of ½ lb. patties, or split a steak with someone else. Also, choose meat that is approximately the size of your palm as a serving size instead of going for the thickest one on the plate. Using small plates helps too. Research shows that people who choose smaller plates and utensils eat less without even noticing it. The difference can be as substantial as 50% fewer calories consumed, yet everyone reports the same level of fullness and satisfaction.
Load up on veggies: Fill half your plate with veggies so as to avoid overdoing it on the higher-calorie options. The fiber will help to fill you and if you want seconds, be sure to fill your plate the same way. Salads are a great place to start also because watery vegetables slow digestion and have very few calories. Try to choose something with oil and protein as well, because these will help you feel full sooner.
Eat mindfully: People who eat slowly eat fewer calories over the course of a meal. BBQs are a perfect opportunity to pace yourself as you mix and mingle with friends and family. The more you’re chatting, the less you’re eating. Don’t skip meals to try to “save” calories for later as this will lead to overeating and lead you to make poor choices due to hunger and low blood sugar.
Keep dessert small: The difference between a large slice of cake and a smaller slice of cake can literally be hundreds of calories. Remember, sugar and refined carbohydrates are the most dangerous foods. You don’t have to pass on dessert completely, but keep your portion sizes in check for this course. Try brining a fruit tart or trifle to your party so that you have a healthy dessert option available to you.
Think before you drink: Making smart choices can be the difference between losing or gaining weight (not to mention your self-control). One sugary margarita can have 600-800 calories. That means 3 margaritas is more food than you should be consuming in an entire day. Is that really worth it? Stick with wine or light beer, drink plenty of water and remember to pace yourself.
Broccoli & Bacon Salad:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/8 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
4 cups finely chopped broccoli crowns
3 slices cooked turkey bacon, crumbled
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preparation: Whisk garlic, mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, sour cream, vinegar and sugar in a large bowl. Add broccoli, turkey bacon, cranberries and pepper; stir to coat with the dressing.
Fourth of July Trifle:
1 Angel Food Cake (made as per package directions)
1 Package of Jell-O Vanilla Pudding (prepared as per package directions)
1 8oz. tub Cool Whip Lite
1 cup each sliced Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, & Raspberries
Preparation: In a large bowl, take have of the prepared cake & crumble into large pieces & then layer half of the pudding, half of the Cool Whip, and half of the berries & then repeat in the same order with the remaining ingredients.
Cucumber Onion Salad:
2-3 large cucumbers
1 medium white onion
1 cup white vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. dill
Pepper to taste
Preparation: Peel & slice cucumbers into thin rounds. Remove outer skin from onion & slice into quarters or smaller based on preference. In a large bowl add all ingredients, cover, & refrigerate at least an hour before serving.