I love the traditional BBQ foods of summer: burgers and dogs, creamy salads, yummy desserts. While BBQ foods tend not to be the stuff that’s going to win any nutrition awards, you can partake and still walk away with your shorts buttoned. 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 BBQ dishes; the best ones are often just as satisfying.
—Nicci Micco, M.S., Content Director for EatingWell
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.
Can't live without your burger? Try one of these delicious, better-for-you burger recipes.
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.
Don't Miss: Healthy Hot Dog Recipes
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.
Don't Miss: Low-Cal Potato Salads That Won't Pack Pounds »
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.
Recipes to Try: Low-Calorie Coleslaws & Summer Salads to Bring to the Party »
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.
A 12-ounce bottle generally has a little less than 100 calories. Or go for the best choice of all: zero-calorie flavored seltzer.
Don't Miss: Taste Test: Light Beer »
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).
Don't Miss: A Lighter Strawberry Shortcake Recipe »
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.
Don't Miss: 100-Calorie Freezer Pops »