FOOD & TRAVEL
As the weather gets nicer, navigating the food scene at spring and summer barbecues can be trickier than sometimes expected. You hop out of the car with your pasta salad in tow and immediately start chatting with the host. After an hour you’ve already gone through four plates of seven-layer dip and two drinks – not exactly the healthiest appetizers. Today, I’m going to give you some ideas for eating healthy and still enjoying yourself at the next barbecue you attend.
As I mentioned earlier, dips are pretty common at barbecues because they are easily made, can sit out for long periods of time without refrigeration and please different palettes. Unfortunately, dips are often made with tubs of sour cream, cream cheese, or mayo – while versatile and delicious, not the best base ingredients. That being said, you still have options.
Dips are often served with a variety of veggies, which truly are a great snack, anytime. If you are allocating space in your belly for dip, choose wisely. If there are a few dips that sound good, take small spoonfuls of them. Whether you choose to take dollops of one or multiple dips, I highly recommend that most of your plate remain filled with veggies. In my own experience, I’ve found that when I eat veggies plain or with a little amount of dip as an appetizer, I’m less likely to over eat or snack later at night.
You can also go the cold turkey route, where you go straight for all veggies. And while taking a plateful of veggies without dip might make you feel self-conscious, the way I see it, you’re saving room in your belly for the good stuff! Why would you want to fill up on spinach dip when you know you can hang tight and enjoy a delicious burger or hot dog later? And of course, the spread of dips is often tempting and putting a small dollop on your plate – there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s called moderation.
The air smells like charcoal, it’s official, the meat and veggies have hit the grill. I find the main course part of a barbecue to be the trickiest to navigate. How do I eat a balanced meal when all I want is a burger or two hot off the grill?
Don’t worry; I got you girl. If you think you may want multiple burgers, hotdogs, or brats, I recommend simply forgoing the bun. By not having the bun or buns with your meat-of-choice, you are saving more room in your belly for the protein and yummy toppings that go along with it! A great way to add more flavor to your bun-less meal is to snag some sliced onions from the tray of offerings and kindly ask the grillmaster to toss them on the grill. Grilled onions are a wonderful addition and add great flavor.
If you want a lighter protein, see if the host has any chicken or veggie burgers on the menu. In the last few years, these options have become more common at barbecues. You can always ask the host casually via text if they will have any lighter protein options on hand for the event. If the host responds with a no, then that allows one of two things you happen: the host can offer to run to the store to get some or you can offer to bring your own if the host is good with grilling it.
First things first. Does anyone else remember the saying that helps differentiate between ‘dessert’ and ‘desert?’ I know I have committed this to memory so that I’m not always trying to distinguish between the two. Dessert has two ‘s’ because you always want some more. And there you go!
Luckily, I’ve found summertime desserts usually contain a lot of fruit. Similar to how I talked about filling up on veggies when scoping out appetizers, I highly recommend filling your plate mostly with fruit and only having one or two small other treats.
In my opinion, I think the best fruits come during the summertime. I much prefer having a bowlful of fresh fruit for dessert during the summer because it’s (a) delicious and sweet, (b) relatively light as far as desserts are go. On the other hand, chocolate is always good, so I’ll have a mini brownie alongside my plateful of fruit to balance it out and satisfy the chocolate craving.
The warm summertime weather means the need to stay hydrated is even more important than during other times of the year. Water can be a bit boring by itself, especially at a barbecue. Take a stroll over to the fruit plate and toss a few pieces of your favorite fruit into your cup to create your own infused water. If you want to take things a step further, fill your fruit cup with sparkling water and add a cute straw to your cup and you won’t miss the soda.
Other Things to Keep in Mind