Eating Well Through Summer
By: Shantel Pluid, RD, LD
Registered Dietician, Boundary Community Hospital
Summer is in full swing and that means access to more grilled foods, delicious fruits and savory vegetables. Picnic food does not always necessarily mean healthy and low calorie, but it does mean tasty! There are a few things to steer clear of, while still leaving plenty of other appetizing options to choose from.
Before filling your plate at a barbecue, take inventory of all the options available and prioritize what you would like to eat. Taking the time to think about your meal before filling your plate will give you some time to think about portioning and how you can balance your food groups.
- Opt for a salad with a vinaigrette or yogurt base. Often salads with mayonnaise as the dressing can bump calories up significantly. Potato, macaroni and coleslaw are picnic staples and are often loaded with mayonnaise. A German potato salad is a wonderful alternative because the dressing is mostly comprised of vinegar and mustard.
- Baked beans are a smart option. Beans are a great source of fiber and protein and are quite nutritious as long as they’re not doctored up with too many extra calories.
- Simple raw vegetables like baby carrots, grape tomatoes, broccoli, and celery are easy to add to your plate and can be a crunchy and satisfying side, just be mindful of how much “veggie dip” you use!
- Burgers are a lasting summertime favorite. As long as you use lean ground beef, you can still have your favorite food on a bun. If you are having a starchy side such as corn, beans, potatoes or macaroni, you might want to turn your burger into an open-faced sandwich or skip the bun all together. This will help to help balance the amount of carbohydrates at your meal.
- Skinless chicken breasts and seafood of most any kind are among the leanest options for the grill. These options with a marinade are an absolutely wonderful option as well. However, some marinades can be high in sugar, so if you know who is making the food you could ask what went into the marinade.
- Vegetables on the grill are another perk of summer picnics, so make sure to load up! Marinated veggie kabobs or slices of red peppers, mushrooms, and squash all can make a great addition to your meal.
- Watermelon is a permanent fixture at any summer BBQ and also a wonderful dessert option.
- Fruit salads, fruit kabobs, and bowls of grapes or cherries can provide a refreshing, and nutritious finish to all those sweet treat lovers. Fruits that are grilled: pineapple, bananas, peaches or pears typically only have a light dusting of cinnamon; therefore they make a great option as well.
- Angel food cake with fresh berries and light whipped topping is another alternative that everyone loves and is reasonably low in calories.
The abundance of summer can bring temptation at the picnic table. For your health, remember to choose wisely.