Summertime cookouts are a great way to bring people together but can put your family in a landmine of high fat and high sugar options. Luckily, you can still get the great cookout tastes and also feel good about you and your family’s health. Read on for some healthy cookout tips!
What meat to choose?
Choose a lean choice such as ground sirloin (90/10 on the label which means 90% meat, 10% fat), ground round (85/15), or ground turkey breast or chicken breast. Other excellent options would be chicken breast with the skin removed, portabello mushrooms, veggie or bean burgers, grilled shrimp, or heart-healthy fish steaks like tuna or salmon.
Use the grill to make great tasting, kid-friendly side items.
Not only is it a healthy cooking method that locks in flavor, but it reduces dirty dishes and clean up! Both grilling and roasting bring out the natural sweetness in vegetables and fruits by caramelizing the sugars on the surface. Try some grilled corn with lime or lemon juice instead of butter, and roast some cut potato slices for some flavorful fries. Use sweet potatoes to add an excellent source of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant. Also try grilled asparagus; a little olive oil and salt and pepper are all you need!
Let your kids help make fruit and vegetable skewers to grill.
Kids are more likely to try foods and say they like them if they are involved in the process of choosing or preparing the food. Cut pepper, onions, cherry tomatoes, pineapple, mushrooms, and squash are all great options and can be a delicious and flavorful way to add fruits and vegetables to your meal.
Watch out for creamy pasta and potato salads.
They are picnic favorites but often high in fat and calories. Make a healthier version by leaving the skin on the potatoes for added vitamins and fiber, and substitute half the mayonnaise with nonfat Greek yogurt, light sour cream, or mayonnaise.
Instead of chips, choose fresh fruit!
Fruit is refreshing, has electrolytes for the running kids on hot days, and gives a powerful nutritious boost. Make it fun for kids by making fruit kebabs using a variety of the summer’s colorful fruit. Try grapes, pineapple, and strawberries, or use some of the melons. You can use toothpicks or pretzels to make mini-ones if sticks aren’t available. Colorful vegetable trays can be made more kid friendly by cutting carrots into “coins” and others into sticks; serve with salsa or guacamole or try hummus or bean dips.
For dessert, grill some peaches and drizzle with honey, or try grilled pineapple on a stick.
Remember that grilling helps draw out the sweetness so be creative and try some different fruits. Grill watermelon for a warm outside but cool refreshing inside, and add some balsamic vinegar or honey for a sweet treat.
For a thirst-quenching and refreshing drink, make some naturally flavored water using this season’s delicious fruits and herbs.
Simply pick up some of this season’s fresh fruits, snip some herbs from your garden, and add water. Try pineapple or cucumber and mint, melon and basil, lime and raspberry, lemon and lime…the combinations are endless. If you have time, let the mix sit for a couple hours, as it will help increase the flavor. It also looks great in a clear pitcher. Light and refreshing; I’ll drink to that.