E-Kidney | July 2012

5 Quick Tips to Lighten Up Your BBQ

By Linda Ulerich, RD

Top 5If you're tying on the apron and firing up the grill now that summer's here, you can enjoy the barbecue flavor with less fat and calories. Here are the top 5 tips for lightening up on the grill, from the National Kidney Foundation.

  1. Think outside the box. While most of us envision a steak or burger sizzling on the grill, lots of other foods taste great barbecued as well and some are a lot healthier. Try grilled chicken and shrimp as well as lean pork loin. Also, try experimenting with vegetables. Cube or slice some asparagus, potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini and even tomatoes, then brush with a little olive oil, season with herbs and grill on both sides for a healthy and delicious BBQ side.
  2. Mix up those side salads. While most of the salads accompanying barbecue fare are mayonnaise-based, you can substitute light mayonnaise or a vinegar-based dressing and still have a delicious dish. German potato salad (without the bacon) and cole slaw are just two examples. Pasta salads with low sodium Italian dressings can be quite delicious and all of these choices will reduce your daily calorie count.
  3. Consider Substitutions for Old Favorites. Baked beans are truly a staple of the summer cookout but they are high in sodium as well as potassium and phosphorus. You can replace them with an alternative that is more kidney friendly. A 3- bean salad might satisfy the craving. Use green beans, wax beans and fresh or frozen corn for a colorful and healthy delight.
  4. Lighten up on the spreads. Corn on the cob is essential barbecue fare. Don't shy away from it, just go easy on the margarine. Or better yet–grill the corn and brush on a little oil and salt-free spices instead of butter or margarine. This alternative is lower in salt and saturated fat.
  5. Simplify your dessert. Think fresh fruit or grilled fruit rather than fruit pies. You'll save on calories and fat and enjoy a refreshing finale to your dinner. Choose produce based on your personal diet restrictions and eat it straight or prepare it in a fresh or cooked compote. If you're cutting up and mixing fresh fruit, pour on a little pineapple juice to slow down the browning process and keep your fruit looking and tasting fresh.