healthy summer meals - grilling fresh fruits and kabobs

Prepare for Fourth of July cookouts with healthy summer meal ideas

When people think of Independence Day, most people think of fireworks and cookouts. We all know that cookouts can include lots of unhealthy choices. Barbecue sauces usually include copious amounts of sugar. Side dishes tend to be carb-heavy with loads of calories. Then, of course, there are the sweet, delicious desserts. Here are some ways to enjoy your Independence Day cookout. 

Go lean

Who doesn’t love to fire up the grill for the Fourth? If you do, choose leaner cuts of meat. Chicken breasts and pork loins are traditionally very lean. If you are grilling burgers, use a leaner mixture. Just about any grocery store sells 93 percent fat-free ground beef. You also could consider veggie burgers or black-bean burgers. Just be sure to read the nutrition labels because some meat substitute patties are loaded with fat and preservatives that should be avoided.

Choose whole wheat

Whether it’s buns for burgers, barbecue ;iiiiiiisandwiches or rolls on the side, go with whole wheat instead of white bread. White bread is high on the glycemic index, which increases your body’s insulin and tells your body to store fat. Whole wheat, rye and sourdough keep that fat storage at bay.

Watch your portions

Just because there is an abundance of food doesn’t mean you should eat an abundance. The USDA recommends a portion of 5.5 ounces of meat per serving, which is about ⅓ of a pound. Instead of eating a plate full of meat, enjoy a small portion and fill the rest of your plate with grilled or fresh vegetables.

You can’t ‘save” calories

Skipping breakfast in order to eat more at lunch just doesn’t work. You cannot “save’ calories by skipping meals. By skipping meals, you are more likely to make poor choices when you do eat because of hunger and low blood sugar.

Don’t forget fitness

You don’t have to cancel holiday plans to spend all day at the gym. If you’re throwing a party, work in some dancing or games that involve physical activity, such as flag football or tag. If you have a pool or are at the lake, get in a good swim. Take a family walk at the end of the day. Just about any way to work in some movement will be beneficial. Just do so safely and stay hydrated.

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