Here in the States, tomorrow is our Independence Day! This means that not only do we have a national holiday, but I’m also running in the Bay Days 5 Miler. Fourth of July is also a big day for picnics and cookouts and while these events can seem pretty innocent, like so much else there can be some hidden traps if you aren’t careful.
So fire up the grills, baby! It’s time for another Survival Guide.
Choose your side dishes carefully
Mayo based side decisions are often a double whammy: regular ol’ mayo isn’t exactly waist line friendly plus the traditional mayo side dishes like potato and pasta salads are pretty carb heavy. Even just a small serving of one of these options can pack in a lot of calories so if you aren’t watching portion sizes you may end up consuming more than you realize. Lettuce based salads at first glance might seem like a good idea, until you start layering on the toppings: dressing, croutons, cheese, etc, so dress that salad with caution.
Get your H2O on
It’s summer. It’s hot. It’s humid. So be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water! Plus, as thirst often feels like hunger it can be easy to mistake one for the other. So before reaching for food, drink some water.
Fake it til ya make it
You don’t have to be a vegetarian
like yours truly to appreciate a veggie burger. Both Boca
make faux-meat varieties that even the most hardcore omnivore will enjoy and they are usually less calories and fat than a traditional ground beef burger. If that isn’t your thing, consider going with turkey or chicken burgers instead.
Take a skinny dip
Not that kind of skinny dip (although swimming is an excellent way to earn some Weight Watchers activity points!). Instead, I’m talking about the other kind of dip. Only instead of buying the store pre-packaged kind, take a few minutes to whip up your own. Trust me, it’s not nearly as much work as it may sound. You can often buy the packaged dry powder Ranch dip in grocery stores and while the instructions often say to mix it with sour cream, I prefer to go with 0% plain Greek Yogurt. Might as well get some extra protein while you’re at it! I’ve also made a dip using taco seasoning mixed in Greek Yogurt as well. And hummus is another excellent option if you want something other than a regular dip. When it comes to what to actually dip, skip the chips and go for veggies: baby carrots, slices of cucumber, strips of bell peppers, etc.
Speaking of veggies: Most cookouts are served buffet style, so start with veggies and load that plate up. Will leave less room for the not-so-healthy options that might be available. If grilling, consider adding some veggie skewers to the line-up and swap out the bun for lettuce wraps! I did this last weekend at my parents house when my dad grilled chicken for sandwiches (mine was a Quorn naked chik’n cutlet) and I surprisingly didn’t miss the bread!
Bring Your Own…Sidedish. Or dessert. Maybe an appetizer. Regardless of what it is, one of the easiest ways to stay on track at an event like this is to bring something you made yourself. Not only will you have complete control over the ingredients but it means you will know of at least one thing you can eat for sure.
What are some of your tips for surviving a cookout or picnic?
Love from the ashes,