Transform Your Summer Cookout

By: Contributor Last Updated: August 11, 2011

Warm weather means outdoor get-togethers and cookouts, but it can be tough to eat nutritiously surrounded by hot dogs, potato salad and pie. Use these tips to incorporate health and safety into your summer parties.

Safety First
With all-day events, it can be easy to neglect simple hygienic food practices

  • Never let food sit out for more than two hours (one if over 90 degrees F outside). Set a timer to remind you.
  • Always wash your hands and all dishes used for food preparation.
  • Preheat the grill at least 20 minutes in advance to get rid of bacteria from your last barbeque.
  • Keep mayonnaise-based foods and fresh fruit cool – put some ice in a second bowl underneath.

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Enjoy Your Favorites
Watching what you eat doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your favorite cookout menu. Try these tips to add nutrition to traditional summer foods.

  • Choose turkey or veggie burgers and turkey dogs with a whole wheat bun to enjoy these classics without ruining your diet. Top with ketchup, mustard, lettuce and tomato – skip the mayo and cheese.
  • Make potato salad healthier by leaving the potato skins on and substituting nonfat yogurt for half the mayo. This swap also works for coleslaw.
  • Replace potato chips with pretzels or a fruit and veggie platter.
  • Experiment with new grill items, such as lamb and veggie kabobs, fish, chicken breast, and various vegetables and fruits.
  • Keep dessert sweet but add nutrition by serving a fruit salad. Or freeze 100 percent fruit juice to make frozen juice pops.
  • Offer a cooler of water and sliced lemons for a refreshing, calorie-free drink option.

Don’t forget to plan fun activities to get the group moving, such as ring toss, kickball or playing catch