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Food Tips: Healthier grilling ideas

Published August 04. 2010 05:00PM

Hosting a summer bash? You don't need to throw your healthy-eating goals out the window, or make guests feast on carrot sticks. Make cookout classics with better-for-you ingredients to create a spread full of slimmed-down favorites. It will be so flavorful that your guests won't miss the extra fat and calories.

Here are some tips to slim down cookout favorites.


Spring and summer are prime time for burgers they're so perfect for cookouts. Calories and fat abound in many burgers because of fatty meats, huge buns and heaps of cheese and creamy sauces. Instead of banishing these from your plate, think about ways to trim them down. A little less of each will shave off calories, and you won't miss a thing in the flavor department.

Fatty cuts of meat are high in saturated fat and cholesterol (not so good for the old ticker). Leaner alternatives 90 percent to 95 percent lean ground beef, chicken or turkey breast, bison and fish make equally satisfying burgers. Jazz up lower-fat meats with herbs and spices, and add moisture to the patties with chopped onion and mushrooms or a tangy sauce.

If you love cheese and mayo, consider low-fat versions and opt for one, not both. Cheeseburger fans: Try topping your burger with a little bit of strong cheese for a burst of flavor without the high-calorie cost. Sliced avocado makes a creamy addition to a burger and offers less saturated fat and cholesterol than traditional mayo.

Then, don't forget to pile on the fresh vegetables like ripe tomatoes, onion, spinach, lettuce and cucumbers. Even with a smaller burger, you'll still feel full with loads of fiber-rich veggies.

Pick leaner meats. Here are some healthy options for the grill:

Poultry: Skinless, white-meat chicken or turkey; ground turkey breast

Beef: Flank steak, top loin, sirloin, porterhouse, T-bone steak and tenderloin; 90 percent lean ground beef

Pork: Pork chops or tenderloin

Lamb: Look for the word "loin"

When shopping, look for meats that have the least amount of visible fat. If the cut is marbled, that means it's streaked with fat.

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