As the long hot days of summer can sometimes lead to backyard BBQ’s with undesirable food choices, it’s important to remember we have options. Here are my favorite 6 healthy swaps to keep you lean and mean this summer!
1) Coleslaw with vinegar instead of mayonnaise.
Simply switching up the creamy mayo-based dressing in coleslaw can turn an artery clogging dish into an artery cleaning salad. Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable, helps protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer. Plus, vinegar helps boost satiety (a feeling of fullness) and clear out cholesterol.
Try it: Make an Asian inspired slaw with tai-colored cabbage and asian vinaigrette with ginger, rice vinegar a splash of orange juice.
2) Replace soda with sparkling water.
An ice-cold soda sounds nice on a hot summer day, but both regular and diet colas are linked to diabetes, heart disease and obesity. If it’s the carbonation you crave, we suggest you get your bubbles by sipping naturally flavored sparkling water or even a kombucha.
Try it: Mix plain sparkling water with a squirt of lemon or lime juice. You could also try a detoxifying water with cucumber, mint and citrus for an extra boost of energizing vitamins.
3) Grilled vegetables instead of hot dogs.
Hot dogs are one of the WORST foods for anyone trying to eat healthy. There is no way of knowing what kind of processed meat and chemicals are inside that casing. On the other hand vegetables are full of different vitamins and minerals like A, C, magnesium, potassium, etc. Plus they can be bursting with flavor!
Try slicing up some zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, asparagus (or experiment with any vegetable). Marinate sliced veggies with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper or fresh garlic and herbs then grill them until they are golden soft. Delish!
4) BUN-LESS BURGER!
To stay lean at BBQ’s you have to think outside the bun! There is nothing wrong with enjoying a medium rare, iron-rich burger—just wrap it with lettuce instead of bun. Enjoying a protein-packed patty without the refined, white-carbohydrate bun is also a smart strategy for blood sugar control. With 33 grams of protein and less than 4 grams of fat in a grilled chicken breast patty, it is a great source of lean protein to help you feel full for hours.
Try it: Just make your favorite burger with a lettuce bun instead of bread! You can enjoy all the same tomato slice, pickles and mustard on it too!
5) Quinoa salad instead of traditional pasta salad.
We all remember carbo-loading with good ol’ pasta salad from the deli, but unless you’re running a marathon tomorrow best to skip all those carbs! On the other hand, quinoa is a seed that boosts 8g of protein and fiber which is a lot more than a box of white bow-tie pasta can say!
Try making a healthy quinoa salad with roasted veggies instead of the traditional deli style bow-tie pasta salad.
6) Swap ice cream for frozen fruit or shave ice.
Summer days and ice cream go together like chocolate and peanut butter! But while that cold ice cream does taste delicious, it’s sure to leave you feeling sluggish and bloated. Instead of ordering a double scoop, throw some fresh fruit like strawberries, mangos and pineapple into the freezer for a sweet treat. Or, make your own fruity popsicles. My new favorite tradition is going the shave ice store and bringing my own vitamin stick pack. Instead of getting sugary syrup poured on, I just sprinkle my own vitamin powder on top for a healthy dose of electrolytes and flavor!
Try it: Freeze watermelon, blueberries, and cherries as a refreshing treat that’s both convenient and nutritious.