Healthy Options for Your Backyard BBQ

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The hamburger and the hot dog are staples of the American backyard BBQ.

But there are ways to switch up those end-of-the-summer get togethers if you want healthy options or just need to add some variety to the menu.

South Shore Hospital's registered dietitians Emily McPhee and Kelly Ciovacco have loaded up our plates with great options to serve and healthier ways to serve them as we count down to the end of summer.

Though, as true New Englanders, we will grill even when there is a foot of snow on the ground.

Make some minor tweaks to your repertoire: There's more to choose from and here are some great options.

  • Lean meats, like chicken and turkey are great substitutes for hamburgers and hot dogs. If you really want to zest things up, throw some fish on the grill. Many people avoid fish because they don't know how to prepare and cook it. Fish is a great source of protein and low in saturated fat, which promotes a healthy heart.
  • If you need a vegetarian substitute for a hamburger, try a veggie or black bean burger, or grill a Portobello mushroom cap.
  • Vegetables are an easy option for grilling and can be thrown directly on the grill or chopped up and placed in tin foil. Add some olive oil and spices to makes the flavors pop.
     

Master the healthy side dish: What's a BBQ without some great sides? Here are some tasty healthy options.

  • Make creamy dips with plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, or try hummus as a great alternative.
  • Make colorful tossed salads by choosing a variety of vegetables to provide vitamins and antioxidants. Opt for oil-based salad dressings.
  • Choose light mayonnaise with potato salad, and make it with red bliss potatos. You won’t have to peel the potato. The skin will also provide fiber and nutrients.
  • For a whole grain dish, make a quinoa salad with chopped peppers, onions, black beans and oil-based dressing.
     

To satisfy your sweet tooth:We know it's hard to deny it completely, but if you must enjoy something that might fall outside your nutrition plan, then keep the portions moderate.

  • Fruit and yogurt parfaits.
  • Fruit salad topped with low fat whipped cream is a great alternative to pastries.
  • Brownies made with black beans instead of white flour and butter. This will add fiber and cut down on saturated fat.
     

Always make sure to hydrate: Hydration is key to staving off the heat and stopping cravings where they start. Alchoholic beverages are fine in moderation.
 

  • Make fruit-infused sparkling water. Giving your water a kick of fruit will appeal to anybody at the party, especially the kids.
  • Mix a half glass of white wine with your favorite flavored seltzer water, and add some berries for a splash of color.