The smell of simmering meats on the grill (or tofu dogs if you’re a vegetarian) during the hot summer months is truly glorious. If you like to grill during the summer, and you're trying to keep the weight in check, there are many ways to indulge in tasty meats and veggies while staying healthy. Here are some tips to help make that “Barbecue Bash,” delicious and health conscious.

1) Healthy Grilling: First and foremost, grilling at high temperature can release a substance in the muscle of proteins of meat like chicken and fish known as HCA’s (Hetero-Cyclic-Amines) which is “cancer-linked” in meats that are charred or well done. Instead of crusting your meat, just flip your meats often.

2) Banned from the Grill: Avoid processed meat like hot dogs, sausage, bacon, ham, and cold cuts. These meats may contain sodium nitrate, dozens of preservatives, and an obscene amount of salt and hydrogenated oil, which can make you feel sluggish and dehydrated.  Try grilling four ounce chicken breast pieces WITHOUT the skin. One piece contains 187 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 1.2 grams of saturated fat --a much better choice for those who want to “trim the fat.” 

For our fellow vegetarians, you may want to stick to high protein, low fat veggie/vegan patties, like spicy black bean burgers as an alternative.

3) So You Like Carbs: Since these are mostly carbohydrates, you will want to avoid calorie-laden appetizers such as chips, dips, and other fatty munchies. A single serving of chips ranges between 170-250 calories and contains 11-13grams of fat.  Instead of fatty chips, munch on Pop Chips or Organic crackers, fresh fruit, or a platter of grilled veggies (since they tend to taste better grilled).

4) Marinate to Taste: Typically “non-lean” meats with fat or skin tend to carry most of the taste, you want to avoid using calorie dense and saturated fat dressings/or marinades. Store bought barbecue sauces and oil based marinades tend to over saturate your foods making them fatty and unhealthy. Instead using herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, mint, thyme, and sage to add flavor and reduce HCA formation in foods. For leaner meats, use olive oils and/or citrus juices to satiate your flavor cravings.

5) Portion Control: Not only does cooking smaller portions on the grill prevent any sort of harmful HCA’s to be released in meats, but adding bell peppers, onions, asparagus, pineapple pieces on skewers w/your special marinade are a very delicious treat while keeping portions small. This will prevent you from overeating large portions while keeping you satiated through the day.

The Additions: Cheese, grilled veggies and mixed greens are essential to keep the flavors flowing through the day. Remember to use reduced fat cheese to keep the calories low, add spices to your vegetables to keep them interesting and delicious.

Remember, to trim fats and don’t over marinate your meats. Scrape off any visible charred pieces and enjoy a nice healthy conscience tasty cookout.

Rosie Acosta is a sunny California native of Mexican heritage, she writes about her passion for Yoga and Mexican Food. She transforms her grandmother's hearty recipes into organic healthy alternatives for a healthier lifestyle. Follow her on Twitter: @RosieAcosta FB: facebook.com/organicmexicangirl and visit her website organicmexicangirl.com

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