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posted: 6/27/2011 1:00 AM

10 tips for healthy eating at cookouts

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  • Opt for healthier options like fruit, veggies and lean meats when you attend parties this summer.

    Opt for healthier options like fruit, veggies and lean meats when you attend parties this summer.


It's that time of year when the smell of grilling is in the air. For many, cookouts bring together family and friends, but it's also a great opportunity for you to practice good eating. Grilling healthy food is limitless if you have the right mindset. Give the following tips a try at your next backyard party.

• Practice portion control. Pay attention to not only what is on your plate, but how much food there is. Remember, a serving of meat is about the size of the palm of your hand. A serving of fruits or vegetables is about the size of a baseball, and anything else should be added to your plate in moderation.

• Grill with leaner cuts of meat such as chicken or if you're using beef, look for loin or round. Some fat is necessary, but be aware of excess fat calories.

• When flavoring meats, use a dry rub rather than oils or syrups. Low sodium spice rubs work great and a pinch of sea salt will help bring out the meat's natural flavor while adding trace minerals to your food.

• Use fresh organic fruits and vegetables to garnish burgers and tacos. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, romaine, olives, mushrooms and avocado add great flavor so there's no need to drown things out with ketchup or mayo.

• When making tacos, use gluten-free tortillas or soft corn tortillas. Avoid the hard shells that are deep fried in oils. Or better yet, make a taco salad.

• Lose the buns. Many grilled foods don't need to be sandwiched between two pieces of bread. Kebabs, steaks, fish and chicken taste great with a side of grilled vegetables such as zucchini, peppers or mushrooms.

• Serve iced tea or water with lemon wedges instead of sodas or fruit drinks. Be aware of excess liquid calories.

• Skip the high-calorie desserts such as cake, cookies or ice cream and stick to a fresh fruit salad. Add a dab of whipped cream to sweeten things up.

• Inform your guests that you are having a healthy cookout and challenge them to bring a healthy dish. This is a great way to help people become more aware of what they eat and how they prepare their meals.

• Plan active games such as softball or volleyball to help burn off some of those calories while making things fun and exciting.

A few simple changes can go a long way in making your cookout healthy and fulfilling. Follow these tips and enjoy great food while setting a positive example for your family and friends!

• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at