19 Ways to Improve Your Barbecue PT II
10. Amp Up the Veggies
There’s always room for splurges in life, so why not make those treats really count? Dr. Jenna A. Bell, RD enjoys the occasional hotdog, but adds Asian-inspired coleslaw of green and purple cabbage to increase her vegetable consumption while still splurging. Smother a chicken breast or cut of beef with green peppers and onions for a backyard Philly. One rule of thumb: Increase the veggies while decreasing the size of the meat. You can also simply toss tougher vegetables like summer squash, eggplant, asparagus and portabella mushrooms with heart-healthy oil and some fresh seasonings and grill just until the veggies are tender.
11. Not Your Mama’s Pasta Salad
When serving pasta salad, pack it with fresh, chopped vegetables and crumbled flavorful cheeses that are lower in fat than cheddar or Swiss. Try goat cheese, feta or fresh Parmesan for instance. Toss the pasta with a low-fat vinaigrette or a tomato-based sauce rather than a heavy, creamy sauce. For even more health benefits, choose a base of whole-grain pasta rather than the usual refined option.
12. Skip the Potato Salad
Jennifer Sharp, a stay-at-home mom from Akron, Ohio, who entertains frequently, says that instead of serving heavy, creamy potato salad, she simply slices some potatoes — leaving the skin on — tosses them in extra-virgin olive oil, tops with fresh herbs and some sea salt and places on the grill until the potatoes are fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside.
13. Skip the Chips
Tired potato chips are off this years’ menus, replaced by healthier alternatives like sweet potato chips (high in vitamin A) or whole-grain varieties. Another option? Serve up some kale chips. Simply wash, trim and dry kale leaves, coat lightly with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and roast in the oven or on the grill until crispy and toasted.
14. Tips for Dips
This year, creamy, mayo-based dips are out and healthier alternatives are in. Instead of ranch dressing or cream-cheese dip for vegetables, why not serve up some homemade guacamole (still high in calories, but packed with heart-healthy fat), fresh salsa or hummus? If creamy dips are a necessity, make yours with a base of plain Greek yogurt.
15. Think Outside the (Condiment) Box
Offer your guests a new flavor sensation by offering new-and-improved condiments like gourmet mustards, salsas, sliced veggies and light, herb-infused spreads that offer a multitude of flavors without the calories. Added bonus? Herbs, vegetables and salsas offer vitamins and antioxidants while omitting excess sodium!
16. Remember the Sweet Stuff — Fruit!
Fruit for dessert may be a dietitian’s dream, but the rest of your guests are likely to appreciate fresh fruit as an accompaniment to their main dish. Be fancy by serving fruit kabobs, or take it easy and slice some fresh fruit, toss with lemon juice (to prevent browning) and serve!
17. Time for Dessert
Marin Gilbert, RD, recommends hosts keep the party light by serving refreshing options like sorbet and gelato rather than traditional ice cream or cobblers. Or offer up fruit-based desserts as opposed to heavier chocolate and creamy ones.
18. Keep Cool With Cold Bevvies
When it’s hot out, guests are certain to be thirsty, but help them keep their waistlines in check by offering lighter options like light beer, sangria (with fresh fruit and club soda) and cocktails made with low-calorie additions instead of sugary, high-calorie daiquiris and pina coladas. Remember to keep plenty of low-calorie, alcohol-free options on hand for all of your guests.
19. Enjoy the Party!
Sure, you may know it’s lighter fare, but let that remain your own private secret. There’s no need to announce it. Simply sit back and watch your guests enjoy their meals and time together.