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Summer Barbecues Made Healthier

Summer Barbecues Made Healthier

Grilling season is upon us. So, how can you celebrate the warmer weather and still impress your family and friends with delicious foods they will love? Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano Clinical Nutrition Manager Marie Detillier shares ways you can host a healthful barbecue where no one will miss the potato salad!

Start building your barbecue around fruits and vegetables, which are low in calories, high in fiber and packed with the nutrients you need. Look no further than your local grocery store or farmers' market for fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables. Not sure how to feature fruits and vegetables at your barbecue? Here are a few ideas, but feel free to get creative:

Watermelon
No summer gathering is complete without this sweet treat. Made up of more than 90 percent water, it will also keep your guests hydrated on a hot day.

  • Caramelize watermelon slices on the grill, then drizzle with honey, lime and a pinch of sea salt.
  • Pair with shrimp on a kabob.
  • Carve out a watermelon to use as a bowl for fruit salad (including the watermelon flesh!)
  • Use the juice of a watermelon as a glaze for chicken, shrimp or pork.
  • Watermelon popsicles

Recipe for eight watermelon popsicles:

  • 4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 2 Tbsp sugar substitute of choice
  • Puree and pour into popsicle freezer container or Dixie cups
  • Insert popsicle sticks and freeze

Get creative: add things like lime zest, mint or blueberries

Summer Squash
When it comes to summer squash like zucchini, patty pans or yellow crooknecks, you've got options. You can stuff it, bake it, steam it and grill it.

  • Grate squash and bake with it. Summer squash can be used in recipes ranging from meatloaf to muffins or breads.
  • Stuff squash with lean protein like chicken, fish or beans and brown rice.
  • Cut squash into length-wise strips and place directly on the grill or cook smaller pieces in tin foil. Season as you'd like.
  • Pair with chicken or lean beef tenderloin and other vegetables for kabobs.

Sweet Potato
While potato salad and potato chips are popular at summertime gatherings, they contain high amounts of solid fats and sodium. A medium-sized sweet potato contains three grams of fiber and just 160 calories, making them a nutritionally sound choice.

  • Bake a sweet potato on the grill and top with cinnamon.
  • Cut into strips and bake for sweet potato fries, or cut into thin rounds and broil at high heat to make chips.
  • Grill sweet potatoes until tender and mash for sweet mashed potatoes topped with a touch of brown sugar or freshly grated nutmeg.

For more tips on small, healthy changes you can make, visit TexasHealth.org/Well-Being.

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