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How to Make the Last Holiday of the Summer (Labor Day) Cookout Healthier

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Written by Ponder   



It has been one very long and extremely hot, dry summer along with a massive amounts of forest fires. How about we try for a weekend to forget the heat and the fires and concentrate on having a healthy last fling for summer. How can we make it healthier-by making the Labor Day cookout just a little bit healthier and it doesn’t take a lot of modification to do either. As long as what you’re serving is tasty, healthy food doesn’t have to be bland.

Potato salad, hot dogs and BBQ go hand in hand along with some coleslaw, but do you realize how much mayonnaise goes into the potato salad and coleslaw? Mayo is high in saturated fat and an ample amount of calories. Those calories can range from 300 to 400 per serving which is about 1 cup.  Instead of the high fat salad, opt for vinegar based salad dressings or a mustard and vinegar based dressing. Yogurt has come such a long way in flavor and the Greek yogurt that is available is very healthy. Make an Apple Coleslaw with a yogurt dressing or make a potato salad with and oil and vinegar dressing. You could cut the calories down to 150 to 200 calories per 1 cup serving.

A summer cookout isn’t a cookout without hot dogs. Hot dogs are loaded with nitrates and saturated fat and the calories for each hot dog with condiments are between 400 and 550. Opt for chicken or turkey dogs and they can be tasty if you use the right condiments that are lower in calories. Mustard has fewer calories than ketchup and go a little easy with the sweet relish too. Sauerkraut is low in calories and will give the dog a nice zing. Chicken or turkey dogs with the bun and condiments come to 250 to 300 calories roughly.

Replace the calorie rich dips that are loaded with fat with salsa. Sour cream type dips can have as much as 300 calories per serving which could come to ½ cup of dip.

Chips are part of the dip dilemma, full of saturated fat and salt. You don’t want to know the calories that you’ll be adding to the dip calories. Purchase some blue corn chips or multigrain and these chips are high in fiber and fiber makes you feel fuller too. 30 potato chips are about 320 calories.

Do you realize that a fully loaded burger can have up to (or higher) 700 calories? If you must have the cheese, bacon, mayonnaise and barbecue sauce, then eat more fresh vegetables and cut the dips and chips and I know it will be hard. Mustard now comes in so many flavors and putting mustard on your burger instead of high calorie mayo and ketchup can reduce the calories. Wake up your taste buds by substituting the high calorie cheese with a goat cheese or feta that has a little zippy flavor.

Shall we talk about dessert? Instead of ice cream (which can have as many as 450 to 600 calories for 1 cup), opt for fresh fruit such as ice cold watermelon or any type of fresh fruit and most fruits are high in fiber. Again, fiber will make you feel fuller.


Want to really cut the calories at your last summer cookout? Then serve grilled chicken and forego the hot dogs and burgers. One piece of fried chicken has 300 to 350 calories. Grilling cuts those calories by at least half, if you make your own BBQ sauce.






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