Holidays are a time to celebrate, and the Fourth of July is no exception! But you shouldn’t feel the need to sacrifice your health (or hard-earned beach bod) every time you attend a BBQ or go to a party. There are plenty of healthy and tasty alternatives to traditional BBQ fare – check out our posts on healthy BBQ tips from last year, including a recipe for delicious burgers. And don’t forget that healthy drinking is a huge part of healthy eating. Scroll down for a few of my sip tips and favorite, low-calorie cocktail recipes. Salud!
Okay, so maybe drinking isn’t necessarily part of a healthy diet, but if we’re going to indulge (be honest) we can at least be smart about it. By following some good drinking habits, such as those listed below, we can enjoy ourselves fully.
TIP 1: Have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink and slow down. Alcohol is a toxin, therefore your liver will always try to eliminate it first, bypassing food to process the alcohol. When you drink water, you give your liver a chance to “catch up,”plus there is no end to the benefits of water.
TIP 2: Ditch the added sugars. Mixed drinks (typically 12oz) are extremely caloric because they are loaded with sugar in addition to alcohol. For reference, a Dark & Stormy or a Margarita can range from 350 to 600 calories, respectively. Is that really worth it? By nixing the sugar, you will not only cut calories but also be able to taste the strength of the alcohol, which naturally slows you down.
TIP 3: Get creative with natural flavors. Using fruits, naturally sweet herbs, or flavored seltzers instead of sodas can add that tinge of sweetness or bite without the calories! My favorite flavor boosters: basil, mint, rosemary, cucumber, lemon, lime, lemon/lime zest, or orange slices.
An alternative to a vodka Bloody Mary. Who said you can’t get your veggies in a cocktail?!
Ingredients per drink:
- 6 ounces of beer such as Modelo Especial, Presidente, Aguila, or even Budweiser
- 4 ounces of V8 (my pick is the spicy hot, low sodium)
- 1 twig of rosemary
- A few slices of cucumber
- Stick of celery
- 3 drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)
Instructions: Pour beer into a cold glass or frosty mug with ice. Make sure to add beer at a 45-degree angle to avoid foam. Add garnish and Tabasco. Top off with V8 juice. Mix and sip. Calories: 95 per drink.
A fresh, spicy cocktail made with grapefruit juice and tequila – a fancified version of the traditional Mexican cocktail typically made with grapefruit soda.
Ingredients per drink:
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice (about 1 lime, juiced)
- ½ teaspoon light agave nectar
- 1 thinly sliced Serrano round (1/8th to ¼th inch wide)
- 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice (juice from less than 1 grapefruit)
- 1.5 ounces tequila, silver or blanco
- 1½ ounces grapefruit-flavored club soda or plain club soda
- Salt rim and garnish
- 2 teaspoons kosher and/or sea salt
- Lime wedge, for lining the rim
- Small grapefruit wedges, for garnish
Instructions: Prepare your cocktail glass by running a lime wedge around the edge of the glass and rolling the edge of the glass onto the salt. Fill the glass with ice. Then, in a mixer, muddle together the lime juice, agave nectar and one small slice of Serrano pepper. Pour in the grapefruit juice, tequila, and shake. Pour the blend into your prepared glass. Top off the cocktail with club soda. Garnish with a small wedge of grapefruit. Calories: 140 per drink.
What’s your favorite healthy cocktail? Share with me! And Happy 4th!
Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN
Edited by Tamara Cabrero
One of my absolute favorite summer activities is inviting people over for a day of grilling. While a BBQ doesn’t usually translate to healthy eating, there are a few small habits we can adopt to make our grilling experience both savory and healthy. Enjoy the month of July, also know as the grilling month!
Enjoy the BBQ 3-Step Process. Happy 4th everybody!
Step 1: Before the BBQ
a.) Don’t Skip Meals to “Save” Calories for Later. Hunger and low blood sugar can cloud your judgment thus leading to overeating and poor food choices. Ensure that you have a small, balanced meal before the big event.
b.) Ask The Host What Is On the Menu. By knowing what will be served, you can plan ahead and prioritize your food choices. This will also give you the opportunity to fill in the gaps with healthier, lighter food choices. Some easy substitutions could be leafy green salad instead of potato salad, jicama/celery/carrot strips instead of chips, or guacamole instead of cheese dip. Pictured are grilled vegetables and a cheese-less pizza with fresh tomato paste, asparagus and zucchini.
Step 2: During the BBQ
a) When Cooking Any Meats, Always Add Herbs and Spices. When meat is cooked over high heat (i.e. grilling) it creates a compound called malondialdehyde, which has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. By rubbing antioxidant-rich oregano, rosemary, parsley, black pepper, paprika or garlic on meats, you can reduce up to 71% of this nasty compound, as per a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Note: Vegetables are malondialdehyde-free!
b) Practice Mindless Portion Control (seriously)!By eating from small plates such as salad or dessert plates, or using chopsticks as utensils, you will eat less without even noticing! Studies have shown up to a 50% decrease in caloric intake without a change in fullness or satisfaction.
c) Fill up on Lighter Foods First. Don’t get me wrong,I’m allfor indulging in a burger at a BBQ. But to decrease your chances of overeating, try having your salad and vegetables, which are high in fiber and water content and low in calories, first. This will slow down your digestion and help you to feel full faster.
d) Mingle! Standing burns more calories than sitting, so get up and socialize!
e) Don’t Drink All Your Calories.Be smart about what you drink. Mixed drinks (12oz), such as a Dark & Stormy or a Margarita, are extremely caloric, with 320 to 540 calories, respectively.
Try these simple tricks to lower your caloric intake:
- Have a glass of water between each alcoholic drink.
- Ditch all added sugars in mixed drinks, for example try a sugarless-mojito.
- Get creative with flavors – add basil, mint, lemon, lime or orange slices to your drink.
- Use flavored seltzer instead of soda.
Rule of thumb:
- 1 glass of wine (5oz) = 100 calories
- 1 beer (12oz) = range from 90-150 calories
- Liquor without mixer (1oz) = 60-70 calories
Step 3: After the BBQ
a) Fix It At the Next Meal. So you may have overindulged at the BBQ after all. Don’t give up on your entire weekend just yet. Practice portion control the next day. Fill at least half of your plate with fresh or grilled vegetables.
b) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Water is my drink of choice (add fresh basil for flavor), but coconut water is a great natural option. If you decide to have an energy drink, dilute it with water.
c) Take a Walk. Physical activity will help you detox and burn off calories.
What are your favorite BBQ tips?
6 Jedi Mind Tricks That Convince People To Eat Healthy. Summer Tomato.
Synergistic summer food pairings can boost health benefits. USA Today.
Antioxidant-rich spice added to hamburger meat during cooking results in reduced meat, plasma, and urine malondialdehyde concentrations. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Tips for a Healthy and Happy 4th of July. Time.
Edited by TCabrarr
We technically have six more weekends of Summer, which means, we have six more weekends of BBQ’s. So, instead of feeling guilty about the occasional burger, I just made it work for me.
Below is a very simple recipe that only requires 6 ingredients including salt & pepper.
Why, you ask, do I not feel the pang of guilt? These burgers…
- have more fiber
- are lower in saturated fat and total calories
- are juicier (since vegetables naturally have more water capacity than meat)
- and they are cheaper!
Serving: 10 4oz burgers
Calories: ~165 calories w/o bun or condiments
- -2 pounds of 95% lean ground beef
- -1 small sweet potato, minced
- -1 small onion, white or red, minced
- -1 TBS of vinegar
- -salt & pepper to taste
- a few pieces of jalapeño (optional)
Mince sweet potato and onion. Place vegetables in a bowl and add vinegar. Make sure to mix well. The vinegar will help soften the cell walls of the vegetables as well as tenderize the meat. Add salt and pepper. Last but not least, combine with ground beef. Once all ingredients are mixed well, make 4 oz patties (approx. about the size of your palm- including width).