In the US, Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of summer fun. Cookouts, campouts, vacations, and family reunions, this is the time of year to be outdoors enjoying nature, beautiful weather, and wonderful family and friends. Many summer activities have one thing in common: food. Maintaining healthy eating habits can be a challenge when faced with an endless array of burgers, hot dogs, chips, cookies, and cupcakes. So, how do you enjoy summer without being left feeling achy, bloated, and tired? Read on for 5 tips to a healthy cookout and be the hero of your next barbecue!
Even if you aren’t the host, consider bringing a healthy dish or beverage to share. The options are endless.
- Skip the hot dog, bring on the seafood! Fresh fish is the best fish, and in the summer months there are a variety of delicious options. On the west coast, Albacore, Salmon, Trout, and pacific shrimp are plentiful. On the East Coast and Gulf Coast regions, Cod, Flounder, Sea Scallops, and Gulf Shrimp are grilling pleasers. No access to fresh fish? Try grass fed, pasture raised burgers (bonus: buy from a local farmer!) or free range chicken legs grilled and basted with barbecue sauce.
- All the veggies. Summer cook-outs are often associated with grilled corn on the cob, but almost any vegetable is delicious when grilled. Some easy favorites include asparagus, bok choy, veggie skewers, and a range of root vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots. Brush veggies with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill. For a little extra kick, brush bok choy with sweet chili paste and root vegetables with a honey ginger glaze.
- Fresh fruit: From Fruit kabobs to fruit salad, endless options for fruity summer treats abound! Berries, cherries, peaches, plums, and nectarines are beautiful summer fruits packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Frozen seedless grapes are delightful and can help you cool off on hot summer days.
- Delicious Desserts: Health(ier) desserts are all the rage these days. A quick internet search will yield hundreds of recipes for yummy treats. From chocolate avocado mousse to banana n’ice cream, there is a delicious treat for the sweet tooth in your family. Try these lemon tarts and line the crust with fresh berries before adding the filling. Keep portion sizes small by making them as individual servings in a muffin tin.
- Refreshing Beverages: Summer beverages are often loaded with inflammation inducing sugar. It’s easy to consume an entire day’s worth of sugar and calories with only a few drinks. Luckily, there are more options than ever these days to offer yummy beverages without loads of sugar. Try one of these at your next family gathering! Dress up your water pitcher: place lemon slices, fresh blueberries, and a handful of fresh mint into a glass water pitcher. Add filtered water and ice to enjoy refreshing, delicious infused water! Love carbonated drinks? Try sparkling water! Most grocery stores stock a variety of sparkling water with natural flavors and no added sweeteners. These can often be purchased in bottles or cans, making filling the cooler with refreshing beverages for your next adventure a breeze. Iced Tea, Lemonade, and Arnold Palmers: Freshly brewed iced tea is perfect on a hot summer day! Choose green tea for an added punch of antioxidants. Squeeze up a pitcher of lemonade (look for Myer lemons and stevia drops to sweeten to taste), add filtered water or a bottle of sparkling water, slice some lemons, limes, and oranges for extra flavor, and consider mixing with iced tea for a refreshing Arnold Palmer.
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