Health

Cut calories at your summer barbecue

Enjoy a crowd-pleasing barbecue menu without excess calories

Chatelaine

Choosing the right foods at your next event can help you reduce your calorie intake by as much as 50 percent, advises Maria Ricupero, a Toronto-based registered dietitian. Here’s what Ricupero recommends you skip at the next barbecue you attend (or host) – and some links to some healthy barbecue favourites from the Chatelaine recipe archives.

APPETIZERS
It’s easy when you’re hungry to overdo things at the appetizer table and consume a massive amount of calories before the main meal even begins. So opt for fresh foods and skip the high calorie snacks.

Skip this: Choose this:
– Deep fried foods with sweet sauces – Fresh vegetables with low-fat dip
– Potato chips and dip – Pita chips and salsa
– Cheese and crackers – Mixed nuts (only a handful!)

Try these recipes:
Red pepper-feta dip
Bruschetta salsa

MAINS
The great thing about grilling is that it’s a relatively low-fat way to prepare meat. Skip the condiments, and you’ve got a good start to your meal.

Skip this: Choose this:
– Cheeseburger with bacon, loaded – Plain hamburger, skip the extras
– Pork sausages and hot dogs – Chicken breast without the skin
– Ribs laden with barbecue sauce – Grilled fish or pork tenderloin
– Fatty cuts of red meat – Lean cuts of red meat (watch your portions!)

Try these recipes:
Greek chicken and veggie kebabs
Cedar-plank salmon
Flank steak with tomatoes and basil

SIDES
Potatoes, corn and other veggies dripping with butter, high-fat creamy sauces and dressings turn healthy, low-cal dishes into rich, calorie-laden sides.

Skip this: Choose this:
– Vegetable salads with creamy dressings – Grilled vegetables marinated in lemon juice, olive oil & fresh basil
– Potato salad with mayonnaise – Potato salad with mustard-based dressing
– Fresh corn with loads of butter – Fresh salads or coleslaw with vinaigrette or red wine vinegar, olive oil & fresh oregano
  – Fresh corn without the butter (just as tasty!)

Try these recipes:
Grilled tomatoes and veggies with dilled yogurt dressing
Watermelon and cucumber salad
Orange-Dijon potato and dill salad

DRINKS
Frozen beverages, mixed drinks, pop and coolers – they’re all refreshing but add up the calories, especially when you’re enjoying more than one.

Skip this: Choose this:
– Frozen drinks or fruit coolers – Vodka, mineral water & a dash of cranberry juice (limit one or two)
– Mojitos and screwdrivers – Mineral water with lemon wedges and fresh mint
– Regular soft drinks – Diet soft drinks

Try this recipe:
Sparkling cranberry cocktail

DESSERTS
With the luscious and tasty fresh fruits that abound in summer, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without mounting up calories.

Skip this: Choose this:
– Ice cream bars – Watermelon wedges
– Pie and ice cream – Fresh fruit and ice milk
– S’mores – Skewered grilled fruit cubes
– Strawberry shortcake – Frozen yogurt

Try these recipes:
Yogurt fruit swirls
Sautéed summer fruit with yogurt