Warning: This could be an obnoxious blog post! For those of you who think, “I just want to enjoy a regular old cheeseburger and some potato chips,” this is not going to be your favorite. But, if you know me or my blog, you know I don’t really eat regular old burgers so this probably won’t come as a shock!
I just wanted to give an idea of how to make typical cookout fare, healthier. All of us either host or are invited to cookouts (or barbecues, depending on your area of the country) each Summer. Whether it’s for July 4th, or you’re on vacation, or just having a few friends over, it is inevitable. These cookouts typically include burgers or hot dogs, with buns, cheese, maybe even chili, and often times chips and dips, and more chips and dips and cheese and carbs. Too bad we are usually wearing bikinis or small clothes while these are happening, right?!
Though I am a supporter of cheating, and not being too overly strict about our diets, cheating too often develops bad eating habits. Also, we can gain weight quickly if we are regularly eating junk. All that to say…I made a cheeseburger meal the other night, and have some tips about how to make a cookout meal that is more light and clean.
1. Use grass-fed beef. I am not a proponent of eating a lot of beef (I only eat it a few times a year now), but if you are going to eat it, choose grass-fed and organic. Do some research about conventional beef, and how bad it is for you (antibiotics, steroids, bad fats, GMOs…), then compare that with the nutritional and environmental benefits to grass-fed beef. I don’t think it will be too long before you switch! Here are some articles to get you started: from Livestrong, from SkinnyMom
2. (Occasionally) skip the bun. With all of the other carbs typically involved in a cookout, it isn’t a terrible idea to put the bread aside. Don’t get me started on the health risks of eating too much wheat. 😉 I had my cheeseburger over greens, with avocado and tomato and ketchup and mustard, and it was delicious! Also it certainly fulfilled the cheeseburger craving.
3. Choose healthy toppings. We used mozzarella, tomato, and avocado. It was a pretty perfect combination, and still nutritious!
4. Swap pasta for quinoa. I made a quinoa Greek salad that has a lot of the same ingredients as a common pasta salad: cucumber, tomato, banana peppers, olives, red pepper, feta, and a balsamic (could use Italian) dressing. Instead of using pasta I used quinoa, yes it is a grain, but it has much greater nutritional value, is a great source of protein, and it is gluten free.
5. Eat fruit for dessert. I bought a quarter of a watermelon at Harris Teeter this week, not expecting anything too delicious because it is early in the season. I was actually planning to use it for popsicles, but it turned out to be too good not to eat it plain! I cut it the other night and had to stop myself from eating it! Having this as a sweet treat (or any other fruit) is such a perfect alternative to dessert, especially in the summer when most fruit is at it’s peak!
So I hope this was helpful and not too annoying! If you have more ideas of how to keep your cookouts healthy, please send them my way. Thank you for reading!