Keep Your Summertime Barbeque Fare Healthy with These Alternatives

Summer means backyard barbecues and tables lined with classic dishes like potato salad, pasta salad, chips and dip and an array of desserts, not to mention sugary drinks. In situations such as these, it can be easy to unknowingly overload on calories, but there is good news. With just a few minor substitutions your summertime barbecue can be just as delicious, as it is nutritious.

Drink this, not that

One, 12 ounce can of pop can contain 140 – 165 calories and nine and a half teaspoons of sugar. Opt out of these empty calories with a glass of infused water, club soda or unsweetened iced tea. Fill a pitcher of ice water with grapefruit and rosemary or lemon, mint and cucumber to shake things up. If you’re used to sweet tea try dropping a few peach slices in unsweetened tea for added sugar and flavor.

Cut the carbs

One white hamburger bun has around 140 calories and 26 grams of carbs. Instead of using a bun, go for a healthier alternative such as butter lettuce or portabella mushrooms. Wrap your burger and toppings inside of a butter lettuce leaf or use two portabella mushrooms as the bun. Butter lettuce is rich in nutrients like vitamin A and phosphorus and only contains 21 calories per serving. If you are one of those people that has to eat a burger with a bun, try to choose a whole wheat thin bun that is high in fiber and protein.

Pack protein into pasta salad

Regular pasta has around 200 calories and 42 grams of carbs. To cut back on the calorie and carb count, try using whole wheat pasta or pasta rich in fiber. If you’re feeling adventurous, try substituting regular pasta for bean pasta. One serving of black bean pasta has 180 calories, 17 grams of carbs, 25 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber – a much healthier alternative to regular pasta.

Go lean

Swap the beef in your burger with a turkey burger. Try making your own at home using 98 percent fat-free ground turkey, spinach and feta or blue cheese and buffalo sauce. Even better, switch up your summertime protein for a salmon burger with mixed vegetables or a portabella mushroom. All of these options come in lower on the calorie scale and nix artery-clogging fats. If these alternatives make you feel like you’re cheating on beef, then try flank steak, a leaner, thinner cut of meat that’ll satisfy your craving without bogging you down.

Skip sugary sauces

While certainly a grilling staple, store-bought barbecue sauces can contain almost an entire cup of sugar. To cut down on calories, try combining herbs and spices to make a dry-rub for your meats or poultry. Salsa is a great alternative marinade for chicken, as it is packed full of flavor and low in calories at just 10 per serving.

Crunch on roasted chickpeas

Roasted chickpeas or kale chips are a great substitute for potato chips, especially if you need something with a crunch. At just 120 per serving, roasted chickpeas are a much slimmer option than the 160 calorie per serving alternative, potato chips. As an added bonus, chickpeas are higher in fiber and protein and lower in fat.

Diet-friendly desserts

Substitute desserts, such as cake and cookies, for a lower calorie option that still tastes delicious. Fruit kabobs with honey yogurt dipping sauce are a great, fresh alternative to cakes or pies. You can also make banana splits with frozen yogurt and fresh fruit.

Comment and share your favorite healthy BBQ recipe substitutes with us below.

Check out these barbecue recipes:

Photo credit: Larry Jacobsen via Flickr

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