Nothing screams summer more than the good old barbecue ! Barbecues not only represent bonding, summer gatherings, summer rituals, flip cup beer pong, and of course a food fest! From refreshing watermelon to juicy high calorie burgers and fatty sausages to decadent lemon meringue pie it’s easy to get a lost in a food coma! If you’re clueless in how to have the skinniest barbecue around without sacrificing taste then look no further, and see what’s tips are hot off the grill!


A summer barbecue wouldn’t literally be a summer barbecue without the meat, so it’s a must to always go extra lean. Typical meats like thick sausages, lamb chops, chicken thighs and hamburger patties can contain as much as 20-30 grams of fat per serving, and it's for sure thing that most of us automatically load up on these items at barbecues where calories can really add up. By choosing lean cuts of meat like a lean cut of beef, ground turkey, pork, or skinless chicken breast you cut back on unnecessary calories and fat. Another great option is to incorporate more seafood like tuna, salmon, sea bass, shrimp, or prawns. For those that don’t eat meat try going for grilled tofu as your extra lean!


At Zen on A Plate always go for one plateful! Just be mindful of your portions when it comes to enjoying the foodfest at your barbecue! Use the hand guide to measure portions wherever you are (refer back to my article Portion Teller). This concept should be applied to meats; savory sides, and of course desserts!


Like the notion of a “die hard chocolate lover” apply this mindset to the concept of veggies at a barbecue. If veggies are not the first thing to be lining up on your plate, then reprogram your thoughts so that you become a “Die Hard Veggie Lover!” Mixed vegetables have so many nutritional benefits whether you add zucchini strips, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, eggplant , bok choy, squash, corn, peas, or broccoli don’t underestimate the power of veggies!


"Out with the old and in with the new!" Forget the old past time favorites of salad versions that included mayo based potato salad, coleslaw, and pasta salad. Instead, think leafy greens like Kale, spinach, mixed greens, or arugula. Get even more creative beyond the mixed greens and try creating a quinoa salad, couscous, bean salad, edamame, squash, or fruit salad.


Using my philosophy of “ simple foods made delish” wherever you go will help you cut back on all those extra calories which are in sauces, sugary beverages, condiments, white carbohydrates/refined sugars, and processed foods. If it’s not a basic food from the pyramid like a fruit, veggie, meat, or whole grain most likely it’s not going to be great for you. These often include but not limited to; condiments, saturated cream based dips, white bread, butter, soft drinks, and chips are a few extras that we see at barbecues. Try to avoid as many pre-barbecue nibbles as you can, and if you are the one throwing the barbecue consider using a veggie based dip as hummus or avocado (guacamole) as a healthy side with veggies. Skip the white bread, and for healthy carb options use lettuce wraps, multi-grain bread, sweet potato recipes for baked fries, or gluten free/dairy free dishes that focus on clean eating recipes.


Make water your "go to drink" wherever you go and you will see the difference in your weekly health goals. If water isn’t your thing then try adding sliced fruit to a vase of water and let it sit for a few hours so you have naturally flavored water, and to make it sweeter without the calories add a natural zero calorie sweetner like Stevia. Always try to skip the soda because it contains unnecessary chemicals and sugar, even if it claims to be diet. Barbecues tend to bring out the full range bar, so if you like to drink go for skinnier choices like a light beer, glass of red wine, champagne or vodka with club soda and a lime. Remember to not abuse drinking alcohol because that slows down your metabolism, and the effects are damaging to your body, so focus more on enjoying a drink or two with your meal.


You don’t have to skip the dessert section at a barbecue, but just be smart about it. Scope out all the deserts, and if you don’t want to go for nature’s finest dessert aka fruit, then you must do your research to find out the healthiest option. To find out which desserts win an award for being the lightest choice ask the host if there are gluten free, dairy free, or vegan desserts options because these tend to be the healthiest which often call for less ingredients. Second, if there are no healthy options in site, then just shrink it! Do this by taking one or two desserts and just make it a mini version. For example, if there is ice cream just go for one scoop of plain ice cream, similarly if there is chocolate cake eat half of slice and you can call this dessert!


DISCLAIMER: The nutritional and well-being information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional nutritional or medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or health condition.

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