CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) – Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, and that means barbecue season! But how can you enjoy the classics without all the calories? Dr. Laura Christoph, Professor of Nutrition shared some barbecue options that won’t ruin your diet and keep you feeling healthy.
Planning and navigating a barbeque can be tough with all the hidden sugars and fats on the appetizer and entrée tables, not to mention the dessert options!
To be a smart on this memorial day weekend try these tips!
1. Be wary of sauces and condiments
Ketchup, relish, mayonnaise, barbeque sauce and salad dressing seem harmless, but can pack on added sugar and unhealthy fats quite quickly! Opt for olive oil and vinegar for salads, and try making your own barbeque sauce that uses a fruit for sweetener rather than high fructose corn syrup.
Sugar Free Homemade Barbecue Sauce
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes in juice
1 onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks, with juice
In a blender, combine all ingredients for barbecue sauce and blend it until smooth.
2. Not all “salads” are created equal
Try filling up half your plate with salad. That means the green stuff with a bit of oil and vinegar on top! Pasta salad, coleslaw and potato salad are packed with saturated fat laden mayonnaise, and the pasta and potato add additional discretionary Calories, as they are full of refined starch.
If you love your pasta salad, opt for whole grain noodles, add some extra veggies, and cut the mayo in half. If you like potato salad, leave the potato skin on or opt for sweet potatoes or purple potatoes.
If you are looking for a fun alternative to pasta salad, try some spiralized zucchini noodles with arugula pesto!
Arugula and Walnut Pesto
2 cups of packed arugula leaves
1⁄2 cup walnuts
1⁄2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1⁄2 garlic clove, peeled and minced
Brown 6 garlic cloves with their peels on in a skillet over medium high heat until the garlic is lightly browned in places, about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic from the pan, cool, and remove the skins.
Toast the nuts in a pan over medium heat until lightly brown, or heat in a microwave on high heat for a minute or two until you get that roasted flavor. In our microwave it takes 2 minutes.
Combine the arugula, walnuts, roasted and raw garlic into a food processor. Pulse while drizzling the olive oil into the processor. Remove the mixture from the processor and put it into a bowl. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
Because the pesto is so dependent on the individual ingredients, and the strength of the ingredients depends on the season or variety, test it and add more of the ingredients to taste.
Mix with freshly prepared pasta of your choice. You may need to add a little bit of water or more olive oil to mix the pesto more evenly with the pasta.
Makes enough pesto sauce for an ample serving of pasta for four people.
3. Refined starch can add up quickly!
Watch out for white hamburger and hot dog buns, pasta, potatoes, chips, and pretzels. These all are refined carbohydrates and can pack on the empty Calories quickly!
4. Pick and choose-where are the discretionary Calories “worth it” for you?
You might choose the hamburger bun or ketchup, but chances are, you are more likely to appreciate that glass of wine or chocolate chip cookie!
Major barbecue discretionary Calorie sources:
b. Hidden fats and sugars barbecue sauce, ketchup, relish, mayonnaise
c. Refined starch in chips, pasta/rice dishes, or rolls.
You don’t have to be 100% perfect all the time. Food is so much more than the nutrients it contains. However, be smart about where you take in those discretionary Calories. They add up quickly!