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Well and Good: Eat Cleaner this Summer

Here in Texas, the arrival of summer means heat, the lake, family, friends and … barbecue. Over the summer, you’ll probably attend dozens of barbecues.

Traditionally, grilling food has been associated with lighter fare. Grilled chicken, for example, can be a great healthy option at your next gathering.

If you’re trying to slim down or just eat a little cleaner this summer, you probably know that traditional barbecue food is not as healthy as some may think. From potato salad to pasta salad to fried potatoes and more, the majority of fat and calories at a barbecue can be found in the… salad. Who knew?

To help us all avoid the diet disasters waiting at the next family gathering, here are a few tips when preparing your favorite summer dish:

  1. Replace the mayo. There are several ways to cut down on calories from mayo. Greek yogurt is one of my personal favorites; it’s thick and creamy like mayonnaise so it’s a great stand in. Use fat-free or low-fat plain Greek yogurt in place of some or all mayonnaise. If you just can’t stand the flavor of yogurt, use reduced fat mayonnaise. You’ll still be cutting out a significant amount of fat and calories.
  2. Ditch the yolks. Many summer salads (like potato salad) call for boiled eggs.  Using half whole eggs and half egg whites is a great way to reduce fat. Make sure you use an extra egg white for every yolk you ditch.
  3. Low fat dairy. When possible, use low fat dairy in your recipe. For instance, when making a broccoli salad with cream cheese, use the reduced fat version. Your family and friends will not miss the creamy texture and flavor of cream cheese and they won’t miss the calories either!
  4. Lastly, give them an option. If you feel that your guests would not be happy without the traditional versions of the foods they are accustomed to, give them a choice! Offer a made-over version (using the tips above) and a traditional version (for instance, if you’re making home-made ice cream, make a frozen yogurt version too): I’d be willing to bet that a majority of your guests will choose the lighter version.