Picnic and BBQ season is still going strong. There’s nothing more fun than having a few friends or neighbors over for a barbeque. Don’t think you can plan a healthy deck party that everyone will enjoy? Well think again. Use these simple steps for your next summer gathering and everyone will have a smile on their faces and want to come back next weekend!
Ten Simple Steps to a Healthy Deck Party
1. Use your grill. Grilling is a low fat cooking method since no fat is added, and the fat in the food item drips off.
2. Think outside the beef box. Sure, a grilled steak is great, but poultry and fish are wonderful on the grill too. Choose “meaty” fish such as salmon filets, shark, tuna steaks or swordfish. It’s worth investing in a grill plate so that items such as fish don’t disappear into the grill rack and into the fire.
3. Remove most of the skin from the chicken pieces. While a little bit of skin will add flavor and keep the chicken moist, the skin is high in saturated fat, which is not healthy for your heart.
4. Add lots of flavor. There are a number of grilling sauces and rubs available on the market today. Be sure to choose one that is fat free or low in fat. Keep an eye out for excess sodium on the label too. Some sodium is okay, but if the sauce or rub does contain sodium, be aware that you won’t have to add additional salt.
5. Use the grill for the whole meal. Even if you don’t have a side burner, you can grill the vegetables too. Grill them first, and then set them aside while you grill the chicken, fish or meat. Simple brush the veggies with some olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and grill. They only take a few minutes, so check often, and then remove to a platter. They can be eaten as is, or chopped into a salad or rice pilaf. Vegetables like zucchini, squash, eggplant, onion slices, and bell pepper halves work well.
6. Try some healthier options to the traditional side dishes. Instead of an old-fashioned mayonnaise-laden macaroni salad, try a pasta and vegetable salad that is tossed with a vinaigrette dressing; instead of baked beans, try a three bean salad; instead of chips, try pretzels or a cereal mix; instead of potato salad, try a mixed green salad tossed with greens, sliced strawberries, slivered almonds, and a vinaigrette; instead of cole slaw, try a mixed rice and spinach salad.
7. Include some fresh fruit. You do not have to be fancy or make a time-consuming fruit salad. Just serve a platter of sliced melon, a bowl of grapes, a bowl of berries or nectarines. Let everyone help his or her self.
8. Along with the fruit, include a dip with low fat whole grain crackers while everyone is waiting for dinner. Try the low fat artichoke dip recipe below.
9. Instead of a bucket of soft drinks for the children, purchase small water bottles or mix up your own lemonade. Lemonade can contain less sugar than soda, and a child may drink less of it when it is served in a smaller cup, and you will have less waste. For the grown-ups, summertime is a great time to try some lighter white wines. Try a Pinot Grigio, a Riesling, or a Sauvignon Blanc.
10. Don’t tell anyone that is it “low fat” or “healthy”. Just sit back, take the compliments, and watch them enjoy the meal.
Enjoy your backyard or deck, and keep your friends and family healthy this summer.
Light and Healthy Artichoke Dip
14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated Romano or parmesan cheese
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened (Neufchatel)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon hot sauce, like Frank’s (optional)
1. Spray a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl until well combined.
4. Place mixture into prepared 3 quart baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and slightly golden.
Rosanne Rust, MS, RD, LDN
Nutrition Consulting, Writing, Lectures
Licensed Provider for Real Living Nutrition Services®
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