Q: Barbecue season is here and I’m super excited. However, this means more temptation and more good food that I need to work very hard to resist. Any tips or tools to help me stay on track even with all the barbecues?
A: Plan ahead:
Think about what will be served and decide in advance what you plan to have, then stick to your plan. This is almost like a menu in your mind. If you do not know exactly and do not feel comfortable asking, you can plan general categories such as
A plate of vegetables
One lean protein or half of a higher-fat protein such as a hot dog or red meat.
- Portion your plate.
Your plate should have lots of salad or vegetables, one protein or a combination of two (half a burger and a small piece grilled chicken) and a small amount of starch such as rice or a potato. Try to avoid buns unless it is daytime and they are whole wheat. PAS now makes a delicious thin bun that is whole wheat and only 100 calories.
- Think time of day.
Bread or buns are better eaten earlier in the day versus late night. If the barbecue is taking place in the afternoon, it’s okay to have one bun (see suggestion in above tip). However, if it’s in the evening then stick to a potato or rice, or skip your starch. An alternative to a starch can be an ear of corn or some grilled butternut squash since they both have a high starch content.
- Great items to grill:
Peppers, large mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes. These all taste great and look great on the grill. Make sure to include these on your menu. There is no need for oil. Use PAM spray and lots of spices.
- Don’t forget the drink menu.
Make delicious ice-cold lemonade using Crystal Light or even just fresh lemon and sweetener. You can have some ice-cold diet soda in moderation as well. It is best to skip the beer, unless you have one light beer as your treat.
- Eat regularly throughout the day.
Many people mistakenly believe that they should under eat before a party or an event. This will only backfire as your blood sugar will drop and you will be too hungry. Instead, eat regularly throughout the day so you arrive with a steady blood sugar and a calm appetite.
- Drink two cups of water right before you go or start. This will fill you up and eliminate any fake hunger that was really just thirst.
- Stay busy!
Never sit at a table for hours. Help make a salad or clear the table. Even switching your seat or going to make a call are good distractions.
- Sit down!
I know, I just said don’t sit, but I meant don’t sit for too long. At a barbecue, many people eat standing up so it’s done quickly and is not as enjoyable as it should be. Make sure to sit down and use a fork and a knife to slow down your eating.
- No leftovers.
If the barbecue is at your house or bungalow, send your guests home with goody bags to take everything home. If you’re a guest, politely decline to be the one taking things home.
Popular barbecue items and their calorie content:
Hamburger bun or hot dog bun: 120 calories, 18 grams of carbs
Hamburger patty on a bun: 329 calories, 15 grams fat
Veggie burger on a bun: 230 calories, 7 grams fat
Turkey burger on a bun: 270 calories, 9 grams fat
Beef hot dog on a bun: 270 calories, 15 grams fat
Barbecue chicken breast (6 oz.) 280 calories, 3.5 grams of fat
I hope you find these tips helpful and enjoy the barbecue season without going off track!
Make Your Own Barbecue Sauce
Barbecue sauces are very high in sugar. Try this recipe for a much healthier version (no one but you will know the difference).
- 2½ (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup xylitol
- 1 tablespoon liquid hickory smoke
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or ore if you like it hot)
- 1½ cup water
Whisk all ingredients together in a saucepan, adding the water last. Start with a cup of water, then whisk in a bit more at a time until it reaches a consistency of a thin barbecue sauce.
Bring to a gentle boil at medium-high heat, then reduce to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes or until thickened.
Taste and adjust sweetener or cayenne pepper if you prefer the sauce to be sweeter or spicier. If it’s still thicker than you like you can stir in additional water, a tablespoon at a time, until reaching desired consistency.
Easy Homemade Veggie Burgers
For a pareve alternative.
1 (16 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed very well
½ green pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
½ onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1-2 oz whole wheat breadcrumbs
If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill to high heat and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking sheet using Pam.
In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans .
In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in breadcrumbs just until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
If grilling, place patties on foil and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
Makes 4 burgers
Count 1-2 burgers as protein for lunch or dinner.
Happy barbecue season!
Alice Harrosh, is a nutrition counselor and manager at Nutrition by Tanya, with 10 locations plus a brand-new one in Queens. Alice knows that making healthy choices is not always easy, as she has been through the struggle herself. As an optimistic person, Alice’s favorite quote is: “It’s never too late to start eating better. If you have a bad morning, make it a better afternoon.” For more information on Nutrition by Tanya or the TAP (Tanya-approved products) food line, please visit www.nutritionbytanya.com or call 844-Tanya-Diet (844-826-9234). For daily tips and inspiration, you may follow @nutritionbytanya on Instagram.
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