Calorie Saving Tips at the Grill

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

by Sylvia Melendez-Klinger, RD

For most Latinos, Independence Day and Labor Day means parades, fireworks and of course parrilladas. Traditional fare, such as hamburgers, hot dogs, carnitas, and pies can quickly derail a diet. But this July 4th and Labor weekend, it doesn’t have to be the case!

These celebrations bring wonderful memories of outside eating in warm temperatures, great company and the wonderful aromas of BBQs, grilled corn and much more. However, these fun celebrations can also bring hundreds of extra calories. For example, one large hot dog with bun and toppings equals about 480 calories, one piece of pork back ribs can amount to 810 calories, 1 cup of home made potato salad can add up to 358 calories and the list goes on and on. Before we know it, we have eaten over 1,000 calories in a matter of minutes. As a mother, nutritionist and consultant for companies like The Coca-Cola Company and others, I’d love to share with you how to throw the ultimate parrillada while keeping calories in check, celebrating in style with foods and beverages that can help you enjoy the celebrations in a healthier way. Let me share a tasty menu and a few recipes that will provide traditional parrillada dishes without the extra calories:

Parrillada Menu:

  • Main Dish: To avoid excess fat, try a lean savory fish such as salmon or tilapia in foil packets with vegetables.
  • Side Dish: Without a salad, there’s no parrillada! Try a summer salad with chopped lettuce, apples, walnuts, red grapes and chicken, dressed with a vinaigrette made with low-fat plain yogurt or reduced fat mayo and a touch of honey.
  • Dessert: Nothing is better than a warm, fresh blueberry pie with a graham cracker crust, topped with more fresh blueberries! But, remember to keep the portion small.
  • Thirst Quenchers: Instead of using large tumblers for drinks, have an ice chest filled with mini soda cans. Also, chop fresh fruits and make your own fruit punch!
  • I really like to incorporate some of my hero foods: salmon is rich in omega-3s and iron, zinc, vitamin A, B and D; blueberries are rich in antioxidants; and salad greens are packed with fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Another plus? The whole family will enjoy eating these nutritious foods!

Tips for the BBQ:

  • Use fresh lemon juice or other citrus juices with a teaspoon of vegetable oil, spices and a dash of salt as a marinade for fish, beef and poultry.
  • Try vegetables with low fat sauces or salad dressings for a heart-healthy option.
  • Make grilled vegetables and fruits. Lightly brush vegetable oil onto vegetables like cebollitas, peppers, tomatoes and squash and put them on the grill. Throw some pineapple rubbed with cinnamon and you have a great dessert!
  • These options are sure to keep you enjoying your celebrations without adding extra weight.

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