Guide to Healthy Summer Cook-Outs

Summer means both bikinis and BBQs, and here’s the thing: the two don’t have to be opposing forces. Cook-outs have a lot of rich foods (beer, brats and coleslaw, anyone?) but they don’t have to be a minefield of unhealthy eating. Try out the following alternatives and substitutions to stay slim and satisfied:

1. Think fresh. Summer means simple, especially when it comes to dessert. Take the time to find perfectly ripe, delicious fruit and you’re halfway to having a successful sweet. Pair berries with hand-whipped cream or Greek yogurt & honey. Stone fruits like peaches, pears, and nectarines taste great with white wine. Watermelon slices by themselves are a nice, crisp end to a meal. If you simply cannot live without chocolate, spend a little extra money on dark chocolate (70% or higher). A few squares and some pomegranate seeds and you’re set.

2. Minimize the meat. Your best bet for healthy grilled meat is skinless, boneless chicken breast, which doesn’t require too much seasoning other than Kosher salt and BBQ sauce. A vegetarian option? Corn. Corn is plentiful & cheap this time of year – simply place an un-shucked ear on the grill, turning every few minutes until the outside is blackened. To eat, remove outer layers & silk. Slather with butter, salt, and cayenne pepper for a little kick. If you’re feeding a crowd, meats such as sausage go a lot farther when placed on skewers and paired with seasonal veggies and fruit. These Grilled Peach Basil Caprese Sausage skewers are a great example.

3. Revitalize your side dishes. Side dishes such as potato and egg salad are often the culprits of an unhealthy picnic, with gobs of mayonnaise & butter. This is where yogurt comes into the picture. Yogurt-based potato salad is still creamy but is less filling, enabling room for other food. Or, skip the potatoes entirely and try this Asparagus with Almonds & Yogurt salad. (Grill asparagus for a smoky taste.)

4. Seafood. As a native East Coaster, I don’t think grilled seafood gets enough credit. The thing is, fish is easy, and all sorts can be thrown onto the grill. Wrap fish in tin foil with oil and spices, seal, and then grill the tin packets. This will ensure your fish isn’t burned. Try this Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Salsa for a sweeter sauce. If you’re from the Midwest, or an area where white fish is predominant, set up a fish taco spread using tilapia.

Kenzie Zimmer celebrated her 22nd birthday by making her first bread pudding, practically a Midwestern rite of passage.

Originally posted on Friday, June 8th, 2012

2 Responses to “Guide to Healthy Summer Cook-Outs”

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    June 13th, 2012

    [...] limit yourself? You can still enjoy your favorite foods, while remaining healthy this Summer. SmallKitchenCollege shows you how to enjoy summer cook-outs, without the [...]

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    [...] No one said summer cookouts couldn’t be healthy. [Via Small Kitchen College] [...]

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