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With Memorial Day this weekend, many of you are likely to be in the midst of planning a family barbeque while honoring those who have lost their life for our country. BBQs are one of my favorite activities in the warm summer months. What could be better than spending time outside with loved ones while enjoying tasty food? The downfall, while doing so we usually end up eating more than we should. The food we indulge in at BBQ’s, while delicious they are typically not the healthiest. (macaroni salad, hot dogs, pies, and alcoholic beverages) I have been working hard at eating health and I would like to keep it that way. I found a few substitutions I will be making to my BBQ menu that will be a more healthy alternative, yet still as enjoyable.

Grilling delicious meat is the best part of BBQ’s hands down. There are many meats you can enjoy at the BBQ and not feel guilty about later. Switch the beef burgers for turkey or venison. Turkey burgers are lower in saturated fat than the typical beef burger you are most likely grilling up. Adding some spices and worcestershire to the turkey will give it more flavor for those who think the turkey is too bland. If you don’t want to go straight turkey try making a patty with 1/2 turkey and 1/2 lean beef this will leave you with a moist burger with less fat. If your family is like mine and they aren’t a fan of turkey burgers give venison a try. Venison has almost half the calories of an all beef burger and I actually prefer the taste to beef. Now what is a burger without cheese? Well a hamburger. But me, I NEED cheese, I crave cheese, I am a cheese-aholic. You don’t need to give up that cheesy goodness, just swap out that over processed American cheese “product” for some “real” cheese like feta, gouda, goat or bleu. All of these are better for you, and honestly in my opinion much more tasty.

Not a fan of burgers, give chicken and shrimp kabobs a try. They can be loaded with the fruits and veggies of your choosing. I love to put tomato, onion, pineapple and mango on my kabobs, but the options are endless. My boys love kabobs, I think it is because it is on a stick. Something about food on sticks are appealing to children. For those of you who are not all about the meat, I give you fish. Fish is AMAZING on the grill, whether it comes from the river down the street, or from the grocery store you will not be disappointed. (Grilling note: Make sure to wrap the fish in foil with your favorite herbs and spices- the foil will keep the fish from sticking and tearing off shish-kebab-417994_640of the grill- also cook the fish on the top rack away from the open flame)

Now my favorite part of BBQ’s are all of the delicious salads. Macaroni and potato salad are my weakness. I could eat bowl after bowl. My kids are also big fans. An easy fix for the macaroni salad is to swap Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise. Add fresh herbs such as cilantro and parsley to kick up the flavor of the Greek yogurt. For a bolder flavor add lemon juice and hard-boiled eggs. Though this dish would not be considered healthy, it is a lighter version of a crowd favorite. You can substitute Greek yogurt in the potato salad too, though I recommend only making one of these carb heavy dishes so you limit the temptation. Instead make a lighter cucumber salad as a second option. (recipe to follow)

Deserts do not need to be sacrificed. Try lighter and fresh ingredients. Fruit salad or fruit with a homemade dip are great ways to satisfy the sweet tooth. If fruit is not enough for you, remember everything in moderation. If you make healthy main course choices you can indulge in a small piece of cake, or a cup of ice cream.

Finally, alcohol is typically found at our family BBQs, I usually am not drinking much because I have to watch the boys- but if I do I try to limit myself to a glass or two of wine or a low calorie beer. Remember socializing with family and friends can be fun without alcohol. Try replacing the cocktails with a refreshing flavored water- a favorite here is mint and cucumber. (it is a great way to cool yourself down while staying hydrated)

Don’t forget all you have been working for when out at a BBQ. Eat for nourishment not as a social activity. If you do not think healthier options will be available at a party you are attending, bring your own dish. People will never be offended with you bringing more food options, bring a healthy option instead of more alcohol. Stay safe this Memorial Day weekend, and remember to eat healthy. Most importantly, remember to honor those fallen soldiers who have fought for your freedom.

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