This weekend marks the official start to BBQ season—yay! I love the traditional foods of summer: burgers and dogs, creamy
salads, yummy desserts. While cookout fare tends not to be the stuff that’s going to win any nutrition awards, you
partake and still walk away with your shorts buttoned. (Check
these 7 tricks for staying slim through BBQ season
.) It just means making the right choices—and, no, you don’t have to
limit yourself to the corn on the cob and watermelon. Just skip (most of) the worst choices; the best ones are often just as
1. Bad BBQ main dish:A cheeseburger
. A quarter-pound beef
burger with a slice of cheese will set you back 510 calories (26 grams of fat). Skipping the cheese will save you about 100
calories. But if you love a good burger, go for it. It’s an excellent source of iron.
Better BBQ main dish:A hot dog
is lower in calories than you
might think. Enjoy one on a roll with your favorite toppings (with lower-cal toppings like mustard, relish or just a little
ketchup) and you’ll come out around 300 calories, 17 g fat.
Related: Can’t live
without your burger? Try one of these delicious, better-for-you burger recipes.
2. Bad BBQ side dish:Potato salad.
There’s nothing inherently
bad about potatoes: they’re actually a great source of vitamin C and fiber, but they contain more calories than other
veggies. Plus, most potato salads are smothered in way too much full-fat mayo and will cost you about 360 calories and 20 or
so grams of fat per cup.
Better BBQ side dish:Coleslaw
can satisfy a craving for
something creamy for far fewer calories (83, with 3 grams of fat per cup). Low-cal cabbage is also a rich source of
isothiocyanates, compounds that amp up the body’s natural detoxifying enzymes.
Potato Salad Recipes That Won’t Pack Pounds
perfect coleslaw or summer salad to bring to the party.
3. Bad BBQ appetizer:Potato chips with French Onion dip
large handful of chips delivers about 150 calories and 10 grams of fat. Add to that 60 calories and 4.5 grams of fat from 2
tablespoons of dip. Tortilla chips and guacamole deliver about the same calories (about 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, plus 50
calories and 4.5 grams of fat in the guac). The problem with these snacks isn’t so much how many calories one serving
delivers, but rather how darn hard it is to stop there.
Better BBQ appetizer: Veggies with hummus.
You can have a full cup of sugar snap peas for 60
calories (0 grams of fat). Add 2 tablespoons of hummus (50 calories, 3 grams of fat) and you have a nice fiber-rich (read:
uber-filling) snack for just a little more than 100 calories.
Related: Skipping the chips is no
sacrifice when 100-calorie finger foods like EatingWell Deviled Eggs and Tomato-Basil Skewers are on the table.
4. Bad BBQ drink: Margarita (or most other cocktails). Between the alcohol and mixers, a small
3.5-ounce drink packs about 160 calories (0 grams of fat). If you’re staying away from alcohol, you might want to stay away
from soda, too: a 12-ounce can delivers about 150 calories—all from added sugars.
Better BBQ (alcoholic) drink:Light beer. A 12-ounce bottle
generally has a little less than 100 calories. Or go for the best choice of all: zero-calorie
5. Bad BBQ dessert:Strawberry shortcake.
Just because it
contains fruit doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest or lowest-calorie choice. Between the cake and the loads of whipped cream
that typically tops this summer favorite, you get a lot more calories than you may be bargaining for: about 425 (and around
20-25 grams of fat).
Better BBQ dessert:A frozen fruit bar
(100 calories, 0 grams of
fat). Or even a scoop of vanilla ice cream: 140 calories, about 5 grams of fat.
Related: Craving a brownie or bar
instead? Browse these rich-tasting, low-calorie recipes.
More from EatingWell: