Food for cooking: your best and worst options
With these healthy ideas for the barbecue menu, you can cook without doing in your diet.
By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic – Expert Column
Is it possible to cook without doing in your diet? It all depends on the menu of your barbecue.
Consider this question: What is the difference between a half-pound burger with a side of potato salad (2/3 cup) and a 1/4 pound sirloin burger in a whole-grain bun with a side of fresh fruit salad? (1 glass)? Answer: The first option has 500 calories more and 38 grams more fat.
Or, if you choose a light hot dog (like Ball Park Light) in an integral bun with a three-bean salad made with light vinaigrette (2/3 cup), instead of a regular hot dog in a white bun accompanied by a bag of potatoes, cut 170 calories and 23 grams of fat (and add 8 grams of fiber to boot).
As these examples show, the menu items you choose during the outdoor cooking season can be quite healthy, or not! Read on to learn about some of their best and worst cooked food options, from buns to hamburgers and side dishes to delights.
Healthy meat options for your barbecue
It is not only the meat that chooses to throw on the grill what counts, but also the size of the portion. People tend to eat what is on their plate, so to reduce the calories and fat of the main course, consume reasonable portions.
This means a quarter-pound burger instead of a third or a half pound, and a regular-sized light hot dog instead of a large sausage. And you do not need a steak of 8 to 12 ounces on your plate: a lean 4-ounce steak may be enough when served with a couple of BBQ sides.
Whatever meat you choose at your outdoor meal, there is almost always a lighter and better choice. For example:
Do you want a beef burger?
BEST CHOICE: make ground sirloin or extra lean ground beef with 6 to 9% fat (94 to 91% fat-free). THE WORST CHOICE: Regular ground beef turns into a half pound hamburger.
Do you want a hot dog?
BEST OPTIONS: Make a light meat or turkey (those of Ball Park Lite contain 7 grams of fat). THE WORST CHOICES: A colossal or giant sized hot dog or sausage (about 4 ounces) like Miller's colossal beef sausages, frank meat for Nathan's dinner or the beef francs of the Hebrew National District.
Do you want a sausage link?
BEST CHOICE: turn it into a "light" or reduced-fat sausage link. They usually contain at least part of chicken instead of pork, such as Hillshire Farms Turkey Polska Kielbasa with 90 calories and 5 grams of fat per 2-ounce serving. THE WORST CHOICES: links of Polish sausages, hot links, smoked sausages, smoked sausages or links of polska kielbasa.
You want chicken
BEST OPTIONS: Make a chicken breast or skinless thigh on the grill (half the fat is on the skin). THE WORST CHOICES: Empanadas de pollo or pollo pies or fried or a grilled chicken drumstick (skin on top) covered with a marinade containing butter.
You want steak
BEST OPTIONS: Take a lean cut, such as the London roast, the top sirloin or the filet mignon, and remove the visible fat before marinating and roasting. THE WORST OPTIONS: marble fillets with visible fat, such as a T bone steak, porterhouse, rib eye steak or main rib.
Do you want skewers or skewers?
BEST OPTIONS: Make them with marinated shrimp; Boneless chicken breast, skinless, pork loin or extra lean beef, and also includes many vegetables on the skewer. The worst options: any marble fillet or other meats with high fat content.
Best and worst ingredients for cooking
Once you have grilled your lean burger or your hot dog, do not ruin the healthy effect by serving it on a white bread without fiber covered with bacon, mayonnaise, fried onions and / or full-fat cheese. Instead, cover them with tomato, lettuce, onion, salsa, BBQ sauce, mustard and / or low-fat cheese, and serve them in an integral bun (now they're easy to find in most grocery stores).
BEST OPTIONS: A spoonful of BBQ sauce plus 2 slices of tomato and a spoonful of chopped onion add only 37 calories and zero fat. THE WORST CHOICES: Traditional dressings such as a tablespoon of mayonnaise (or spread mayonnaise) with 2 strips of bacon and a slice of cheddar cheese add approximately 265 calories, 24 grams of fat and 9 grams of saturated fat.
The best and worst barbecue dishes
Creamy salads such as coleslaw, macaroni or potatoes are popular barbecue dishes. But they do not have to spell out the disaster of the diet. Any recipe for these creamy salads can be rinsed using 1/2 cup of light mayonnaise plus 1/2 cup of fat-free sour cream for each cup of mayonnaise required by the recipe. You can even increase the fiber in the macaroni salad using whole grain macaroni pasta.
And for the healthier sides of the barbecue, simply "follow the beans and the green". If you change your creamy macaroni salad for some baked beans to the barbecue, it will cut approximately 80 calories, 16 grams of fat and 3 grams of saturated fat. Fat per cup. Change that cup of potato salad for a salad made with 2 cups of romaine lettuce, 1 tomato and 1 tablespoon of light Italian dressing and cut 250 calories, 15 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of saturated fat.
BEST OPTIONS: Baked beans (preferably made with less sugar); Three-bean salad (preferably made with light vinaigrette); and green salad made with dark-colored vegetables such as romaine or spinach, mixed with vegetables and / or colored fruits and dressed with low-fat dressing (preferably made with canola or olive oil). THE WORST CHOICES: Salads soaked in May, such as potato and macaroni salad and cabbage salad, and other salads bathed in creamy dressings.
The best and worst outdoor food desserts
Finish your barbecue meal with a cup of fresh berries instead of a piece of double crust berry pie and you will save 350 calories and approximately 18 grams of fat. Or, choose 1/2 cup of strawberry ice cream instead of the full fat type and reduce the calories by 140, the grams of fat by 13 and the saturated fat by 9.
THE BEST OPTIONS: The best barbecue dessert is naturally sweet fresh fruit. Serve it as a fruit plate or fruit salad, or enjoy it and serve it with a vanilla / balsamic vinegar sauce (try the chopped peach halves, sliced fresh pineapple, mango or sliced papaya). Fresh fruit also adds color, fiber and nutrients to a light dessert cake such as angel food or a fruit cake, or a small spoonful of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. THE WORST CHOICES: Among the worst delicacies for roasts is something with a lot of sugar, thick cream, whipped cream or pastry crust, like premium ice cream, double crust cakes and delicious cakes.
Published in August 2008.
Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Medical Recipe" of WebMD and author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Your opinions and conclusions are yours.
© 2008 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
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