Here in the northeast, we call it a barbecue. Meaning, a backyard (or rooftop) gathering of folks that involves food that may have come off a grill. Having spent many years living in Texas, I know the term “barbecue” can mean something entirely more serious. But whether you call it a barbecue or a cookout, there is sure to be a lot of food. Is this an automatic disaster for those following a diet? No!

Let’s look at the two areas that get us into the most trouble when it comes to party food. First, the main course. Crowd favorites like hamburgers, dogs, and ribs are delicious, but high in fat. We need the protein, but the high fat content of these foods makes it very challenging to stay within our calorie guidelines. Delight the tastebuds (and waistlines) of your guests with leaner choices like seafood or poultry. These can be made into lightened up burger patties, grilled on skewers as kabobs, or even prepared on a cedar plank for a unique moist & smokey flavor.

Second, get creative with those side dishes. A typical mayo-based potato salad or coleslaw will provide a hefty amount of fat with very little protein. Instead, substitute the regular mayonnaise for a light variety. Better yet, use fat free plain greek yogurt in your recipes in place of mayo for a protein punch without the fat. Other nutrition conscious side dishes to consider are corn-on-the-cob, salad skewers, or a refreshing bean salad. Check out the links below from our media library for some healthy recipe suggestions.

Lastly, don’t forget to drink plenty of water during those warm weather fiestas. A sure way to sabotage your diet, and your energy level, is to neglect your hydration in the heat. For more summertime menu ideas, visit the meal planning tab in the media library!

Swordfish burger

Salmon & Veggie Pouches

Salad Skewers

Watermelon, Feta, & Arugula Salad