Healthy BBQs

July 4, 2009 5:55:11 AM PDT
As you're preparing to enjoy your 4th of July barbecue, we have some tips to keep you healthy. Dr. Stuart Fischer, diet expert and author of The Park Avenue Diet, joined us with tips. Love Yourself, Not Your Libation:
High sugar summer drinks can easily send you sailing over the optimal daily caloric intake. Many would be shocked to know that even tonic water has about 40 calories per serving; on the other hand, Margaritas and Pina Coladas can have between 600-700 calories each. Instead, substitute something refreshing and low calorie such as Arizona Organic Green Tea to make a refreshing Mar-TEA-ni. Or, use diet soda, reduced calorie fruit juice, or low calorie lemonade as a mixer. A light white wine can also be a good alternative.

Eat With Your Brain:
Instead of going for the cheese burger and mayonnaise laden-potato salad, know you have better options. Avoid the mayonnaise potato salad and bring your own bean salad instead - there's a great Four Bean Salad recipe with only 245 calories or a Tomato and Artichoke salad with only 163 calories from wellness chef Marie-Annick Courtier in The Park Avenue Diet. If you need a burger, choose Bison or Tuna burgers instead - both have less calories and fat than beef or chicken. Another great option is shrimp, which is delicious when paired with some vegetables on a skewer. You'll feel like a million on beach day.

Don't Graze - Socialize Instead:
Summer is the season to get out of your shell and meet people. Don't lose the opportunity by grazing instead of chatting. Once you've finished your second plate you'll feel so full you may no longer want to bond with your fellow party goers. Walk in with the right attitude, that human interaction is more fun than food, and you'll be sure to eat less and hopefully connect with someone special.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth:
Who doesn't want a nice cool ice cream on a hot afternoon? Try eating fresh fruit instead. Besides being nutritious, it can simultaneously cool the body and replete some lost water. Other great options are snacks that use sugar substitutes such as Skinny Dippers. The frozen bars sweetened with Splenda come in two refreshing flavors and have zero calories, but still give you the sweetness you crave.

Hydration is Key:
Dr. Fischer recommends that you drink 50% water when you're outside in the summer heat. Beer, wine, and mixed drinks will also lead to fluid loss. The best form of hydration is mineral water because it partially treats the loss of body salts in hot weather.

Condiments Matter:
When in doubt, check the label on your condiment because condiments can actually help you pack on the pounds. Mustard is a great choice because it is remarkably low in calories, carbs, and fat, but has tons of flavor. Other great choices are salsa or chimichurrri instead of sugary ketchup or yogurt instead of sour cream. Lastly, try dipping instead of slathering when barbequing, it makes a big difference.

Get in the Game:
Many barbeques happen in parks - so take advantage of the great scenery and walk around, take a hike, or play a game. Bring your own exercise equipment - a bike, Frisbee, or volleyball and you'll be the hit of the party. Even better, you'll be working off your food and keeping yourself occupied away from the buffet.

Healthy Recipes:

Artichoke and Tomato Salad


1 cup cooked artichoke hearts
12 ounces tomatoes, quartered (about 2 large tomatoes)
4 ounces Boston lettuce

1 shallot, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh salad herbs, minced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

For the vinaigrette:
In a bowl, mix the shallot, garlic, mustard, and vinegar. Slowly whisk in the oil. Add the herbs and season to taste.

For the salad:
Place the artichoke hearts and tomatoes in a bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss carefully. In a bowl mix the lettuce with the remaining dressing and equally divide among four plates. Top with the artichoke hearts and tomatoes.


Four Bean Salad

8 ounces dried garbanzo beans
8 ounces dried black beans
8 ounces dried red beans
8 ounces green beans
2 ounces red onions, diced (about ½ small onion)

1 large garlic clove, minced
4 tablespoons of olive oil
9 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 to 4 tablespoons fresh salad herbs, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing:
In a bowl, mix the garlic, oil, vinegar, and herbs.

For the salad:
Cook the beans separately following the packing instructions. (Approx. 30-40 min.)
Place the green beans with a little salt in a pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook to desired tenderness. Strain and place immediately in ice-cold water. Strain and pat dry.
Place all the beans and red onion in a large bowl. Add the dressing, season to taste, and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

- The salad can be served over lettuce, rice, and/or tomatoes.