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Skinny Grilling – Healthy, Lower Calorie BBQ

Summertime means cookouts and barbecues with friends and family, but all that summertime fare can add up to extra calories. Grilling itself is a low-calorie cooking method because it doesn't require the use of oils like frying or sautéing, but often we make poor choices about what to grill, how to eat grilled fare and what to enjoy with it. To make your grilling a little skinnier this summer, keep the following tips in mind.

- Ban the Bun The white bun, that is. White hamburger and hot dog buns contain processed white flour, which is full of empty calories. Switch to whole-wheat buns to add a serving of whole grains to your grilled menu. You can also mix things up by serving whole-wheat pitas or wrapping your burgers and dogs in leafy green lettuce.

- Fats Enough When you're deciding what to grill, be on the lookout for low calorie options. Opt for ground sirloin, which is only 8 to 10 percent fat. If you're making hot dogs, try turkey dogs or reduced fat kosher beef hot dogs. Is steak on the menu? Filet, top sirloin and New York strip steaks have the lowest fat content and all come out delicious on the grill. You can also grill shrimp or salmon for a low calorie protein.

- Top It Off Right When you've got a low calorie burger or dog, the last thing you want to do is top it off with caloric condiments. Mustard and dill relish are the lowest calorie options among traditional toppings, but you can also get creative by experimenting with new toppings. Try mixing avocado with fat free Greek yogurt and spread it on your bun with some jalapeno or chipotle peppers for a spicy Southwestern burger. Top a hot dog off with carrots, cucumber and a squeeze of lime juice for a fresh take on the classic frank.

- Select Smart Sides You don't want to pile up the potato salad or french fries beside your skinny grilled fare. Go low cal by tossing some vegetable or fruit skewers alongside your meats on the grill. Instead of pasta and mayonnaise, try making a cold salad with quinoa or wheatberries with veggies and a light olive oil dressing. Put fresh fruits and veggies out for snacking and serve whole grain tortilla chips with fresh salsa to add some salt and spice.

By making smart choices about what you put on the grill and beside it on the plate, you can make grilling as healthy as it is delicious. Careful planning will allow you to still enjoy time with your family and friends while still staying slim enough to wow in your bikini until Labor Day comes along.

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