Summer is all about backyard barbecues and that means lots of burgers and food on the grill.
If you're trying to be healthier this summer, there are simple swaps to lighten up the go-to grilling dishes, says nutrition expert Brooke Alpert.
Alpert, author of "The Diet Detox," shared a healthy summer BBQ menu with leaner proteins that are lower in calories and sodium content to keep you on track.
1. Try a turkey burger instead of beef and skip the bun.
The classic beef burger with lettuce, tomato, pickle and cheese has about 564 calories. Instead of beef, try a turkey burger on a collard green wrap with tomato, pickle, and cheese
Why it’s a great figure-friendly swap: "Turkey is a leaner meat than beef. Not only is a turkey burger lower in calories, it's also lower in fat and higher in calcium than beef. Plus, wrapping your burger in a high fiber vegetable like collard greens saves on calories and provides an amazing source of nutrients like antioxidants to keep you healthy."
How to make it: Grill turkey burger patty on both sides. Place in collard green wrap and add one tomato, slice, one pickle spear, and a slice of cheddar cheese.
2. Marinated chicken instead of baby back ribs.
Why it’s a great figure-friendly swap: Choosing marinated chicken thighs over ribs will save more than 300 calories. In addition, baby back ribs are often prepared with a ton of sugary BBQ sauce, which is extremely high in sugar and empty calories.
How to make it:
In a mixing bowl, combine four tablespoons tomato paste, two tablespoons sesame oil, three tablespoons tamari, and two tablespoons sesame seeds and mix with a fork until incorporated and set aside until you are ready to grill chicken (four chicken thighs with bone-in and skin-on).
Place chicken on preheated grill, skin side down, without sauce, for 4-6 minutes or until crisp.
Flip thighs and cook for an additional four to six minutes.
Let stand for three to five minutes and serve.
3. Tuna kebabs instead of steak.
Swap a 4 oz. steak kebab with peppers and onions for tuna instead.
Why it’s a great figure-friendly swap: Tuna is much leaner than beef in terms of fat content. Plus, tuna is full of omega-3 fatty acids -- good fats and a staple of a healthy diet. Just be careful not to consume too much tuna too often, as your mercury content could rise.
How to make it: Make your charcoal grill very hot.
Season the tuna with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and slice into 1.5-inch pieces.
Grill each side for 1 - 2 minutes, until the outside is just done but the center is still red and raw.
For onions and peppers: Do a rough chop of the vegetables. Season with olive oil, salt, and pepper and place on grill for about 12 minutes or until they reach desired texture/consistency. Place the vegetables and tuna pieces onto kebab stick.
4. Bye, bye bratwurst.
Pass on the bratwurst and try a turkey hot dog with mustard and sauerkraut.
Why it’s a great figure-friendly swap: Bratwurst contains meat with a high fat content and therefore a high calorie content. Choosing leaner meat like turkey saves on calories. Plus, the sodium content is lower so you won’t feel that salt-bloat the morning after your BBQ. The sauerkraut is also an amazing source of probiotics which will improve your gut bacteria and overall health.
How to make it: Grill a turkey hot dog like the Great Organic Uncured Turkey Hot Dog from Applegate. Place on bun with 1 teaspoon mustard and 1 tablespoon sauerkraut.