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  • Beth Chiodo RD, LDN, CWC

Healthy BBQ Tips and Food Safety

The beginning of June marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and my mouth is watering thinking about picnics and barbecues for the next three months! Though the carefree days of summer are fun, traditional picnic foods like mayonnaise-laden potato and pasta salads, burgers, chips, and hot dogs can derail even those with the best eating intentions. Follow these simple tips below to trim calories from your picnic fare and inches from your waistline:

  1. Try swapping regular burgers for lean beef burgers (at least 90% lean), turkey burgers, or even black bean burgers to reduce saturated fat and calories.

  2. Choose chicken dogs, turkey dogs, or even veggie dogs instead of full fat beef or pork hot dogs.

  3. Consider grilled vegetables as a side dish, a topping for burgers, or have it on a bun like a veggie burger.

  4. Instead of mayonnaise, try using a vinaigrette for potato and pasta salads and mix in extra vegetables.

  5. Think outside the box and use whole grain pasta, brown rice, or quinoa instead of white pasta or potatoes in your salad.

  6. Choose infused water, sparkling water, or unsweetened iced tea instead of soda, juices, or lemonade.

  7. If alcohol is on the menu, choose a light beer or wine and alternate with a glass of water to reduce calories and prevent dehydration.

  8. For dessert, consider watermelon or fruit salad.

Also, the CDC reminds us that, “Keeping food at proper temperatures — indoor and out — is critical in preventing the growth of foodborne bacteria. The key is to never let your picnic food remain in the ‘Danger Zone’ — between 40 °F and 140 °F — for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90 °F. This is when bacteria in food can multiply rapidly, and lead to foodborne illness.” For more tips on summer food safety, click here.

Try this recipe as a lighter option:

Southern Broccoli Salad

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 2/3 cup

Calories 85

Carbohydrate 11 g

Protein 3g

Fat 4 g

Saturated Fat 1.2 g

Sugars 8 g

Dietary Fiber 1 g

Cholesterol 5 mg

Sodium 285 mg

Potassium 195 mg

Serves 6


3 cups broccoli florets

¼ cup finely chopped onion

¾ cup chopped celery

1/3 cup (1 ½ ounces) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

¼ cup light mayonnaise

¼ cup nonfat plain yogurt

2 tablespoons honey

½ teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper


In a medium bowl, combine broccoli, onion, celery, and cheese; set aside. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add mayonnaise mixture to vegetable mixture and toss. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to “marry” the flavors.

From Hello Taste, Goodbye Guilt! by Mr. Food Test Kitchen - See more at:

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