Whether it’s charcoal, gas or even a grill pan on the stove, there’s no denying it: Grilling is one of America’s favorite pastimes during the summer season.
While cookouts always are filled with fun, they also can be loaded with foods that are high in calories and fat.
Not to worry! Here are a few tips and tricks so that you can have your barbecue and eat it too.
BURGERS AND BRATS AND DOGS, OH MY
For meat lovers, beef burgers and hot dogs are the quintessential barbecue must-haves. Here are a few tips to lighten up between the bread without losing flavor:
• Look for fat-free or mostly fat-free hot dogs with 50 calories or less each. (Then enjoy a couple!)
• When it comes to burgers, meatless patties like Boca Original Vegan Meatless Burgers are a simple way to save on calories, with only 70 calories each. Another meaty but meatless option: portabella mushroom caps.
Toss them on the grill and layer on the toppings.
If you have your heart set on a beef burger, opt for extra-lean ground beef (4 percent fat or less) — it even has fewer calories and less fat than lean ground turkey.
SOMETHING ON THE SIDE
Side dishes — like pasta salad, potato salad and cole slaw — are summer outdoor-party staples, but often loaded with fatty mayo. Try these ideas to lighten them up:
Swap out mayo for plain fat-free Greek yogurt or even creamy Dijonnaise to make a healthier potato salad.
If you love pasta salads, load them with veggies and use whole-grain pasta. Both add fiber, which helps fill you up.
Remember, the grill isn’t just for meat. Some of the summer’s best veggies, like asparagus, eggplant, onions and tomatoes, make the perfect grillers.
Try tossing pregrilled veggies with a lean protein, like StarKist Tuna Creations, to make a healthy, flavorful side dish.
The tuna pouches have only 110 calories or less each and are preseasoned in tasty flavors like Ranch and Sweet & Spicy.
For those with a sweet tooth, fruit is the answer. Grilling fruit is not only quick and easy, but it also brings out the natural sweetness for a flavorful treat.
Apples, pears and pineapples are the easiest to grill, because they hold their shape and texture. If you prefer softer fruits like peaches, mangoes or plums, use skewer sticks for a no-mess grilling process.
CHIEF OF BEEF CHEESEBURGER
- One 100-calorie flat sandwich bun
- ½ lettuce leaf
- 1 slice tomato
- 4 ounces raw extra-lean ground beef (4 percent fat or less)
- 1 tablespoon liquid egg whites (about half a large egg white)
- Dash each salt and black pepper
- Dash garlic powder
- Dash onion powder
- 1 slice fat-free cheddar or American cheese
- 1 thin slice onion
- 3 hamburger dill pickle chips
- Optional toppings: mustard, fat-free mayonnaise, ketchup
Split bun into halves, and top the bottom half with lettuce and tomato.
In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix beef, egg whites and seasonings. Evenly form into a patty about 4 inches wide.
Bring a grill pan (or skillet) sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Cook patty for 3 - 4 minutes per side, or until cooked to your preference.
Top patty with cheese and cook until melted, about 45 seconds.
Transfer cheese-topped patty to the bottom half of the bun. Top with onion and pickles, and place the top half of the bun over the stack!
Per serving: 295 calories, 6 grams fat
GRILLED & CHILLED VEGGIE TUNA SALAD
- 8 thin (or 6 thick) asparagus stalks, tough ends removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup eggplant cut into 1-inch cubes
- One ½-inch-thick onion slice, rings intact
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- 3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
- One 2.6-ounce pouch StarKist Tuna Creations, Sweet & Spicy
- 2 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Bring a grill pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium-high heat. Add asparagus, eggplant and onion. Cook until slightly softened, 6-8 minutes.
Flip veggies, and add the cherry tomatoes to the pan. Cook for 4 minutes.
Flip tomatoes. Cook until all veggies are soft and slightly blackened, about 2 minutes.
Transfer veggies to a medium bowl. Let cool completely.
Chop onion. Cover and refrigerate veggies until chilled, at least 30 minutes.
Place lettuce on a large plate or in a large bowl and evenly top with chilled vegetables and tuna. Top or serve with dressing.
Per serving: 255 calories, 5.5 grams fat
GRILLED JUICY FRUIT KEBABS & DIP
- 6 ounces fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup 1-inch pineapple chunks (about ¼th of a pineapple)
- 1 cup 1-inch mango chunks (about 1 mango)
- 1 cup 1-inch peach or nectarine chunks (about 2 peaches or nectarines)
- 1 cup 1-inch banana chunks (about 1 large banana)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 20 minutes to prevent burning. (You’ll need 4 skewers.)
Combine all ingredients for dip in a bowl. Mix until thoroughly blended and smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Skewer the fruit chunks alternately onto 4 skewers, packing the pieces together tightly. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bring a grill (or grill pan) sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat. Add skewers, cover, and cook until fruit chunks are slightly blackened and caramelized, about 3 minutes per side. If using a grill pan, work in batches, removing pan from heat between batches to re-spray. (Don’t worry if the lid used for covering isn’t a perfect fit!)
Serve dip with grilled fruit and chew.
Per serving: 135 calories, 0.5 grams fat