Grilled Veggies

Yesterday, I was leaving spin class with my friend, Jen. She was telling me about this incredible BBQ/backyard soiree that her friend throws every summer.

Live music, lots of really interesting/funny/cool people, insanely good food…the works.

After I half-jokingly asked if I could be her plus-one, she said “Oh, I’m NOT going!”

Um…wait, what?!

Then she went on to explain that after years of struggling with her weight, she’s finally in a groove of eating right and working out…and that coming face-to-face with her favorite BBQ foods would throw her right off her wellness wagon!

She was obviously bummed and didn’t want to miss out, but she also didn’t want to fight temptation…and lose.

Once she said it, I could totally relate…because a few years ago, I struggled with the same thing!

Maybe you’re struggling with this too?

But, here’s the thing I really, really, really want you to know…

Being healthy isn’t about passing on the party…it’s about bringing the healthy to the party!

You don’t have to sacrifice having a good time or going to a fabulous BBQ, just because you’re on a mission to keep it tight and right!

All you’ve gotta do is bring the healthy with you!

Here’s how…

1. Go Skinny Dippin’

Not the swimmin’ in your birthday suit kind…although that’s fun too…just sayin’! 😉

I’m talking about swapping (not dropping) the fried potato chips & French onion dip for a skinnier, healthier chip and dip.

My favorites:

  • Baked blue corn tortilla chips piled high with a fresh fruit or veggie salsa
  • Baked zucchini, beet or parsnip chips and hummus
  • Crudités drizzled with lime juice, sea salt and cayenne pepper, dipped into my Avocado Cilantro Lime Dressing!

2. Be a Lean Mean Protein Grillin’ Machine

Most people hear protein and immediately think: meat. But when it comes to this muscle-building nutrient, there are plenty of delicious plant-based options (with far less fat, calories and cholesterol) to choose from.

For example:

  • Barbecue tofu “wings”
  • Marinated tempeh & veggie kebabs
  • Grilled quinoa crust flatbreads
  • Lentil and brown rice sliders

But…

If meat is your thing, healthier options include:

  • Skinless marinated chicken breasts
  • Grilled wild-caught fish
  • And leaner cuts of red meat, like skirt steak or flank steak (topped with salsa verde or chimichuri as healthier alternatives to steak sauce)

Then load up your plate with a huge helping of grilled veggies!

Grilled Vegetables

And remember, what you don’t eat is just as important as what you do eat. So, opt for organic, grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free meats, whenever you can.

3. Build a Better Burger

Burgers and BBQs go hand-in-hand. Here’s how you can keep your burger and your beach bod:

THE BURGER

  • Swap high-fat beef for lean organic ground chicken or turkey
  • Make my seriously deliriously delicious Black Bean Burger
  • Or try a grilled portabella mushroom burger

THE BUN

  • Drop the top (meaning use only ½ the bun) and choose better quality buns, like whole grain or sprouted
  • Feelin’ really crazy? Get your greens on and eat your burger between two large Bibb lettuce leaves

THE TOPPINGS

  • Crowd in veggies like: arugula, tomatoes, grilled onions and peppers
  • Slather on smashed avocado in place of mayo
  • Get creative and spice things up by adding grilled jalapeno peppers, hot sauce or horseradish

4. Swap Those Creamy Sides

  • For the pasta salad – replace refined “white” noodles with whole grain pasta or quinoa noodles, then add some grilled veggies and toss with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice
  • For the potato salad – opt for a tangy vinegar or mustard dressing mixed with fresh herbs. For an extra punch or antioxidants, swap your russet potatoes for sweet potatoes
  • For the plain iceberg lettuce salad – upgrade your leafies with dark greens like spinach, kale or arugula, then top with a whole grain (like millet or quinoa), nuts, seeds, veggies and a classic vinaigrette
  • Ready for a cool trick? If creamy mayo-based slaws, salads and sides are your only options, fill your plate with plain mixed greens and top them with one spoonful of those dreamy creamy sides. You’ll double the volume, fill up faster, save on calories and get in an extra serving of veggies

5. Fill Up Your Cup

Drinking empty calories from soda and alcohol can quickly pack on the pounds and can be harmful to your health, but you don’t need to give them up entirely to stick to your wellness routine.

At your next BBQ, try this:

If you’re a soda lover: Cut It In Half. Meaning, if you usually drink 4 cans of soda per party, reduce that number to 2 cans and then replace the other 2 with fruit infused water.

If you’re a cocktail lover: Make It Sparkle. Order two ounces of a light liquor, like vodka or tequila (which have less congeners – a chemical that contributes to hangovers – than dark liquor) with sparkling water and lime juice. This will reduce calories AND help keep you hydrated.

So there you have it, five ways to bring the healthy to the BBQ!

If you’re hosting, try all five! If you’re going as a guest, like my friend Jen, pick one and offer to bring it along!

Now, I’d love to hear from you!

When party invites flood your inbox, do you have any fun strategies that help keep you on a healthy track?

If not…

Which of these five tips are you most excited to try?

Conversation sparks inspiration…so be sure to leave your comment below.

Happy Grilling!

xo,

Vicki