Before and After Weight Loss

Rethinking the Backyard Barbecue

Summertime and the living is easy…and much of it is spent outdoors. If your child or teen is returning home from a weight loss camp with some of those stubborn pounds missing or if you have visited an adult “fat camp” or been trying to rethink your own eating habits, here are some suggestions for a healthier backyard BBQ:

* Instead of serving soda or beer, make your own lemonade with fresh squeezed lemons, some calorie-free sweetener, and ice cubes into which you’ve frozen some fresh mint leaves from your garden (pansy flowers work too.) Or make herbal iced tea with organic honey. Aim for no artificial ingredients in any drink you serve.

* Don’t cheat and buy mayo-rich salads. Make several green ones instead (spinach and raw almonds; raddichio, rugula and garbanzo beans dressed with light oil and lemon or raspberry vinegar; fresh basil, dill and cold (skinless) chicken breast with a little sunflower oil and grapes. Make fruit salads, too–using natural honey as the “tie that binds”.

* While you are preparing the fruit, save some to make light sorbet in your ice cream maker or freeze fruit juices with wooden sticks for homemade popsicles for dessert.

* Use what grows wild around you–How about a salad with dandelion greens, wild rose petals and rhubarb stalks? And don’t forget the onion grass you find everywhere (those are just chives and scallions by another name.) If you find a sunflower–bonus! The seeds can be eaten raw or roasted.

* Substitute turkey dog for hot dogs and serve without a bun. Instead of hamburgers on the grill, why not make “lamburginis”–lamb patties mixed with fresh vegetables and herbs from your garden for flavor. (Ditch that harmful salt. Pepper comes in infinite –and delicious varieties–try pink peppercorns and see how you like them.)

* Shish kabobs–grilled with no oil–make a great BBQ food, especially when combined with fresh peppers of several varieties.

* Condiments have lots of hidden calories–serve plenty of juicy garden-grown tomatoes instead of ketchup, and cucumbers instead of salt-filled pickles. Or better still, make your own, substituting calories free sweetener for all that sugar in the ketchup and a salt substitute in the brine for homemade pickles.

* Go online and research the many recipes that now exist for light summer fare and save yourself from feeling weighted down in these hotter months. Start a summer cookbook with what you find.

* Remember, a BBQ isn’t all about eating… it’s about playing too! Set up a badminton court, a croquet course, or invest in a bocce ball set (then explain the game to your kids). If you are feeling more adventurous, buy a trampoline or a silly slide (that and a hose are all you need to laugh the afternoon away and get your exercise to boot.)

Getting and staying fit doesn’t mean you have to give up that time-honored American tradition. With a little rethinking, the backyard BBQ will continue to make great summer memories for your family.