Summer means picnics, barbeques, and other outdoor social events. It also means lots of yummy foods, many of which are not so healthy. Here are some tips to help you enjoy a guilt-free summer without compromising fun or your weight loss goals.
Tip #1: Add lighter versions of traditional favorites
If you are hosting the BBQ, replace some of the traditional dishes with lighter options. Try turkey brats, chicken hot dogs, or plant-based black bean burgers instead of (or in addition to) brats, burgers and hot dogs. They have the same seasoning as the original versions while being lower in calories and fat. One of my favorite replacements for a burger is a large grilled portabella mushroom cap (only 35 calories).
Tip #2: Take food to keep you on track
When you’re attending as a guest, take something that will help you stay on track. Bring a large vegetable tray with hummus, a fruit salad, or a large summer salad. Place these items on your plate in larger quantities, covering half your plate, and reserve the small areas on your plate for the foods that are higher in calories and fat. This ensures you will have something nutritious while allowing you to enjoy the less healthy choices without over indulging.
Tip #3: Focus, make your plate and move away from the food
It is best if you make your plate and then move away from the serving line. Focus on leaner meats, like grilled chicken breasts, and load up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid the pasta salad or potato salad, which are usually heavy on mayo and fat. Look for items like a three-bean salad or cowboy caviar. Once your plate is made, go find a seat or mingle. Avoid grazing by the table. Those little nibbles here and there add up quickly.
Tip #5: Stay hydrated
Most summer get-togethers will be outside in the sun. You will need to drink 8-10 bottles of water to stay hydrated. An added benefit of water is it will help you feel less hungry. A refreshing option to plain water is adding fruit for a splash of flavor. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol will dehydrate you. If you are drinking alcohol, limit it to 1-2 drinks.
Tip #6: Get Active
What is a summer party without a little volleyball, Frisbee, horseshoes, or corn hole? Get involved! You will get some exercise and have fun, too. Maybe you’re at a park, campground, or lake. Why not go for a nice hike after your meal? This will help you stay away from the dessert table and keep you from feeling bloated and full.
Tip #7: Enjoy yourself and have fun
Don’t try to stick to a super rigid meal plan when attending a summer party. If you know you are going to have a cheat food or indulgence, decide what you will have before you get there and don’t go over your goal. However, if something is a trigger for you and you can’t stop at just one, it is best to avoid that item.
Below are tasty and very healthy recipes to enjoy at your next cookout.
Grilled Summer Vegetables
- 1 green bell pepper, quartered
- 1 red bell pepper, quartered
- 1 eggplant, cut crosswise into ½ inch thick rounds
- 1 yellow squash, cut crosswise into ½ inch thick slices
- 1 zucchini, cut crosswise into ½ thick slices
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups mushrooms, quartered
- 2 tablespoons chopped herbs of your choice (Ex. tarragon, thyme, and basil)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or red wine
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat grill to high heat. Arrange veggies on a grill pan, flipping once, until tender approx. 5-8 minutes. Spread out to cool on large baking sheet. Toss veggies with herbs, vinegar, salt and pepper. Serve on large platter (can be served warm, room temperature, or cold).
Per Serving: 70 calories, 0.5 g total fat, 160 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein
Recipe Source: Whole Foods
Perfect Summer Fruit Salad (makes 10 servings)
- 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 cup packed Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
- ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
- ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups cubed fresh pineapple
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 3 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
- 3 bananas, sliced
- 2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
- 1 cup seedless grapes
- 2 cups blueberries
- Bring orange juice, lemon juice, Splenda Brown Sugar, orange zest and lemon zest to a boil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, and set aside to cool.
- Layer fruit in a large, clear glass bowl in this order: pineapple, strawberries, kiwi fruit, bananas, oranges, grapes, and blueberries. Pour the cooled sauce over the fruit, Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours before serving.
Per Serving: 155 calories, 0.6 g total fat, 5 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g protein
Recipe Source: All Recipes
Healthy Cowboy Caviar
- 1-14 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2-14 ounce cans of black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 1-14 ounce can of corn, drained and rinsed OR 1 ½ cups of fresh corn
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapeno (remove seeds to reduce heat)
- 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- ¾ cup red onion, diced (can substitute sweet onion, if preferred)
- 1 ½ cups tomatoes, diced
- Avocado, optional
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lime juice
- 1 teaspoon Maple syrup, honey, or agave (can substitute a no/low calorie sweetener)
- 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- In large bowl, combine drained and rinsed black beans, black eyed peas, and corn. Add and mix in cilantro, jalapeno, diced red and orange bell peppers, diced onions, and diced tomatoes.
- In a cup, whisk together dressing ingredients until emulsified. Drizzle dressing over serving bowl and toss until well mixed. Let mixture marinate 20 minutes before serving. Add avocado just prior to serving to prevent it from turning brown.
Per 1 Cup Serving: 261 calories, 12.4 g total fat, 765 mg sodium, 31 g carbohydrates, 9 g protein
Recipe source: Cookie & Kate