Summer is finally here along with the heat and that sizzling barbecue smell. We are all busy planning picnics filled with potato salad, pasta salad, brats, burgers, chips with dip and all kinds of fun treats and alcoholic beverages. Unfortunately, the typical American barbecue feast is not ideal for our waistlines. The good news is that there are many ways to help trim off the unwanted calories. Here are some survival tips for the summer barbecuing season.

First, create a marinade if you are hosting a picnic for your grilled meats or poultry. Marinades are an excellent way to had a healthy dose of antioxidants to your barbeques. They are also a great barrier against the potentially cancerous byproducts of charcoal grilling. A Caribbean chicken marinade might include orange juice/zest, lime juice, ginger root, garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and olive oil.

Secondly, you can alter traditional recipes to cut out the calories and add extra healthy benefits. For example, try using avocado in replace of mayonnaise in salads. Avocados will lend a color to your salads while increasing your intake of healthy omega 3’s. Here is a recipe for an Avocado Dill Potato Salad
– 3 avocados, smashed
– 1 bunch fresh dill
– ½ red onion
– 2 lbs. cooked red potatoes, cubed and cooled
– ½ cup chopped dill pickles
– 1 ¼ tsp. Lemon Juice
– 3tbs. Dijon Mustard
– Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all together and serve chilled
For pasta salads you can try using a gluten free pasta. Another alteration to pastas is by creating “noodles” by spiralizing vegetables like zucchini, sweet potatoes, or carrots.

Thirdly, remember to load up on your summer produce. Summertime allows for a bountiful harvest full of bright colors. The brighter and more colorful your plate the more phytonutrients are available. Phytonutrients are natural chemical substances found in plants that act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory substances, and detox promoting substances. Specifically, to this area produce in season include: beets, blackberries, blueberries, cabbage, cantaloupes, cucumbers, eggplants, green beans, nectarines, peaches, peppers, tomatoes, and watermelons are coming into season. If you have questions about what is in season, check out your community farmers market. In addition, grilling vegetables decreases the bitterness by creating a caramelized coating. Many picky eaters find that grilling vegetables opens up their palate.

Finally, watch your added sugar intake by choosing either a starchy carbohydrate dish, an alcoholic beverage, or a sweet dessert. Although a patriotic themed dessert filled with blueberries, strawberries and whipped cream may look healthy, it is probably a sugar overload. High sugary foods like desserts, large quantities of fruits, alcohol, sugary drinks like lemonade or juices causes our blood sugar to spike. We are more susceptible to this in the summer heat especially if we are not staying hydrated with water. Sugar spikes lead to energy deficits, weight gain, headaches, and decreased immunity.

There are many eating challenges at the summer barbeque, but hopefully these tips will provide some guidance. If you would like further assistance in meal planning and altering recipes, please contact Elizabeth McMillan at Rose Wellness.