Cut calories at your summer barbecue

Enjoy a crowd-pleasing barbecue menu without excess calories


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.

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

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

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

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

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

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