Summer barbecues are perhaps a favorite among anyone and everyone who lives on Long Island. They are a tradition symbolizing the start of the summer season, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Birthday parties, Labor Day Weekend, the list goes on. Families gather, music is playing, the grill is fired up, beer caps start flying, picnic tables and lawn chairs are filled, and family gossip, good times, and memories are made over a bright fire.
But in the long run, are we paying attention to what we eat? Most of us, not so much. We are there to have a good time, get a load off, have a beer with the guys, or converse with the girls, eat food, and laugh; not think about the impacts to our cholesterol, or blood pressure. In all reality, we should be much more aware of what we are feeding ourselves in the long run. That hamburger garnished with tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mayo, or the chili cheese dog that you eat at every barbecue this summer could come back to haunt you one day.
So let’s think about this. What are ways that you can make healthier choices at a Summer barbecue? For one, portion control. Instead of two servings, have one. Keeping with the mentality of trying different food without overindulging. Also cut back on your red meat in favor of more leaner proteins as well as fruits and vegetables. Whether you decide to load up your hot dog or hamburger with vegetables or skip that bun, there are plenty of ways of participating in the celebration without going overboard. Also watch how many beers and wine coolers you’re throwing back. One too many beers will turn into one too many pounds that we don’t want come the end of the summer.
What are some alternatives? Salad’s, yes…the dreaded S word. Salad’s are common hit at barbecues, and yes you could even get away with a helping of potato, macaroni, or egg salad if you wanted too. But the salad that you’ll really want to focus on is the one with the greens in it if you’re looking to make a healthier decision. Salads do not have to be boring either! Add some heart healthy almond slivers, sliced strawberries, and balsamic dressing to your greens of choice and you will be amazed at the flavor combinations. You can even enjoy a salad with a cold wine spritzer if you wanted too.
Backyards and campgrounds will be filled with families and friends this Summer across Long Island. Country music, warm nights, and the smell of a fire burning is some of our favorite things about summer. So enjoy it, and enjoy it in a healthy way by making wiser decisions at your family’s Summer barbecue.