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Summer BBQ Fare with Flair

Updated: Jul 9, 2022

What’s the perfect recipe for summer? Beaches, a little pool and of course a good barbeque. But how do you enjoy the tastes of summer and keep calories in check at the same time?

As a registered dietitian, I like to say, everything is okay as long as you have it in moderation.

Whether you are the host or a guest, it can be easy to over-pile the portions onto your plate. Make wholesome and wise choices and adopt what I call “buffet discipline.” Here are my personal tips for enjoying a balanced barbecue that still includes all of the fixings.

Have a Plan:

Plan the menu, shop smart and have fun.

  • Include lean meats such as chicken, turkey or loin cuts of pork. Prep your meats for grilling in advance and set aside separate platters for before and after grilling, to ensure you’re handling the food you cook in a safe way.

  • Add salads with fresh seasonal ingredients: assorted greens, fruits and grains or legumes.

  • Choose low-fat salad dressings to marinate meat or dress salads.

Take (Portion) Control:

A keen eye is the key to living a balanced lifestyle.

  • As the host, choose a theme, decorate your space and select color-coordinated salad or 7-inch disposable plates to help promote portion control

  • Serve sheet cake or brownies by pre-cutting them into mini-bites and placing them in small, festive cupcake liners.

  • Have 5 to 7-ounce cups for beverages at the bar and make sure there are plenty of liquids on hand to keep guests going. Serve a variety of portion-controlled beverages like Coca-Cola mini cans at 90 calories. Round out the beverage selection with sparkling or flavored water and iced teas.

Keep Movin’ and Groovin’

  • Pump up the volume by keeping a playlist with upbeat tunes and a designated a dance leader to kick-off a dance competition.

  • Have a couple of “get active” props, such as a hula hoops and jump ropes, for a little healthy competition among friends.

  • Be mindful of the temperature. Make sure guests don’t overheat. If the sun becomes too intense, move the gathering indoors.

July 4th is just around the corner, and it will not be the last summer gathering with good food. By following my tips, you can enjoy the festivities and tastes of the season in moderation.

I am a registered dietitian based in Florida and a former consultant to The Coca-Cola Company where I provide practical nutrition information on behalf of the company. All of my opinions are my own.

Image courtesy of artur84 /

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