Enjoy A Cookout Without Guilt

Many Americans celebrate July 4th with cookouts and fireworks. Some eagerly anticipate these gatherings, while others may find the typical spread to be fraught with challenges.

Whether a basic or extravagant cookout, there are often healthy food choices to be found. Here are a few recommendations that are consistent with an anti-inflammatory diet.

From the Grill: The best choices here are grilled chicken or fish, but it’s okay to reach for a hamburger. Just avoid the bun and load up on lettuce, onions, tomatoes other veggie toppings. Sauerkraut could be a topping or a side dish – it’s great for your digestion. If full leaf lettuce is available, try wrapping your burger in a double layer of leaves to hold in your toppings.

Vegetables: Grilled corn-on-the-cob may be available at your cookout, and there are may other veggies that are great from the grill. These can include sweet potato planks, and any variety of veggies that might be put on a kabob skewer with meat.

Fresh Fruit: A good choice for a side dish or dessert. Keep your eye open for fresh fruit salad full of local strawberries and blueberries that are in season. Berries are high in antioxidants and lower in sugar.

Side Salads: Green salads made with spinach, Romaine, or kale can provide a good filler for your plate and perhaps a base for your meat. Hopefully the dressing will be provided on the side so you can control the amount you use. Coleslaw is another good option, especially a vinegar-based recipe.

Veggies and Dip: Load up on the raw veggies and go easy on the ranch or blue cheese dip. Instead look for guacamole and use that with the veggies in place of chips. Avocado is high in nutrients, antioxidants and quality fat. It can even add flavor to your bun-free grilled meat.

Beverages: Stay hydrated with seltzer or mineral water with lemon or lime. Lemon water helps with digestion and can also curb your appetite. Unsweetened tea is okay, perhaps with stevia or a splash of sweet tea for a light sweet effect. Alcohol, though enjoyable, is just empty calories.

Be creative and thoughtful with your food choices at cookouts. Rather than grabbing a plate and beginning to fill it, scan the buffet and plan how to make better combinations of foods to support your goals. If you are unsure what will be available, bring your favorite food as a hostess gift. You will be certain to have food you can eat, and you may help someone else at the gathering as well.

If you have begun reading my book, you will recognize several EDITs incorporated into these suggestions. Taking this approach can benefit you all year long and will support sustainable wellness. Start today for your future!


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