5 Tips for a Healthy Grilling Season

July 4th is almost here and many of us find ourselves ready to fire up the grill! Summer barbecues and pool parties can be fat-laden affairs, but Julie Bender, RD, LD, of Sarasota Memorial’s Nutrition Counseling and Coaching Program, shares 5 tips to keep you trim and in tip-top, swimsuit shape:

1. Go “Lean & Light:” Keep your meats fresh and lean — Choices include grilled chicken, low-fat chicken sausage (Check out the Al Fresco brand!), home-made turkey/sirloin burgers, fish or pork loin. Avoid slathering on the sauces. Instead, think about using a citrus marinade, a light oil-based dressing or a fruit salsa (such as mango or peach) to get all the flavor without the guilt.

2. Get Your “COLOR” On!  Keep an eye out for the fruit, veggies and health benefits around you. Fill half of your plate with these low-calorie options to fill you up and reduce the temptation for fatty foods. (But if they’re heavy on dressing or mayo…beware!).

3. Don’t Drink your Calories: Yes, that frozen margarita, pina colada or mojito can set you back anywhere from 200-400 calories, not to mention the sugar. If you want to indulge, go for a glass of wine; light beer or sangria.  (Goal: Try to keep it under 150 calories!)

4. Control your Portions… Do a “Gut Check”: Before you host or attend your barbecue, check in with your “gut.”  Attending your next get-together when you’re over-hungry sets you up to overeat. Eat a light snack before you attend. This will allow you to feel more in control and be more selective and mindful of your food choices!

5. Snack SMART:   Heading off to a barbecue or hosting one? Be sure to bring or serve some healthy snacks for guests to nosh on before the meal begins. Choose ones that might appeal to most guests, including blue corn chips and salsa, fruit kabobs with dressing (mix plain Greek yogurt, sweetener, hint of almond extract), hummus and whole wheat pita chips…Just to name a few. Try this recipe for Spinach Dip and wow your guests…no one will guess it is low-fat!

Julie’s Spinach Dip

 1 ½ package (10 oz.) frozen spinach

8 oz. fat-free sour cream

8 oz. plain fat-free yogurt

1 cup light mayonnaise

1 8 oz. can water chestnuts (drained and chopped)

4 green onions sliced

1 package Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix

Thaw spinach and squeeze dry.  Stir together soup, mayo, sour cream, yogurt.  Stir in spinach, chestnuts, onions.  Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

*Party Tip: Use a round bread loaf and cut a round circle at the top and hollow out the bread, leaving shell intact. Place the dip in the bread bowl and set on a platter and surround with raw veggie sticks for dipping.

 Yield: 4 cups – 21 servings (1 serving = 2 Tbsp) = 65 calories, 5 grams of fat

 Provided By Sarasota Memorial Health Care System’s Food & Nutrition Department.

Trying to lose weight? Want to manage a health issue or just simply live well? Sarasota Memorial’s nutrition and lifestyle coaches can help! They provide the education and support you need to change old habits and meet personal wellness goals. Call (941) 917-7468 or click here for more information.

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