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By Cyndie Reichert, BA, RN
One of my most favorite songs describes an evening in the summer and causes me to reminisce about cookouts when I was younger, waiting with the kids in the alley, riding bikes around, eating “freezy pops” and waiting for that call, “Time to eat!” Those days, when I was too young to worry about calories or cholesterol. What a glorious time!
These days, I enjoy grilling out, but I am a bit more health conscious with what I’m doing. Dinner on the patio alone and with friends makes an ordinary evening something special. The key for me is to be mindful of what I’m eating to stay on track.
Here are some twists to make your cookouts this season a bit healthier:
- Watch the alcohol. I LOVE white wine in the summer, and I am thirstier because of the time of year. To quench that thirst in a healthier way, try mixing your favorite pinot grigio with half seltzer. Add fruit slices for extra flavor.
- To replace potato salad as a side dish, try grilling some vegetables or fruit. Everyone knows grilled pineapple is amazing — experiment with other fruit, like watermelon, peaches, or bananas.
- Improve pasta salad by using zucchini noodles. Or try half pasta, half “zoodles” if your Italian family just can’t handle a full break from your homemade pasta. (I understand completely!)
- Lastly, if you are really craving it, eat it. Don’t feel guilty. Enjoy the food. It’s fine to have a treat or taste in moderation. Share the slice of pie, serve yourself half the pasta salad, have a smaller helping, but savor every single mouthful of that delightful summer dish. You can’t do it all the time, but an occasional indulgence is fine.
Please check with your doctor before you change your eating habits. If you already follow a doctor-prescribed diet, use their guidance before incorporating these changes. Bon appetite!