June 26th, 2018

Living on F-Factor: Summer BBQ Survival Guide

You asked, we listened. Follower question of the week.

Q: It’s fully BBQ season now – welp! 

A: Nothing says summer like pool parties and BBQs. But with fattening items like hotdogs and creamy side salads (think potato salad and coleslaw) on the menu—you may find yourself with a little extra pudge hanging over your bathing suit. Luckily, we know a thing or two about having fun in the sun without ruining that bikini bod. Whether you’re at the cabana or manning the grill, we got you! Tips and tricks for enjoying the endless slew of outdoor barbecues, picnics and pool parties, in addition to some of our favorite summertime recipes here: 

GENERAL TIPS

While you’re filling your plate at a barbecue, or snacking poolside with some friends, aim for foods high in fiber (whole grains, fruits and veggies) and protein (lean meats, fish and cheeses). Fiber and protein are the two nutrients that take the longest to digest. It is this perfect combination of foods that keeps your already normal serum glucose levels consistent, leading to improved energy for the rest of the party. Also, since fiber has only 0 calories per gram, and protein has 4 calories per gram, you are guaranteed the least caloric intake with the most food intake.

SLOSH THE SAUCE. With barbecues, comes barbecue sauce. One tablespoon of sweet barbecue sauce has 20 calories, 4 carbohydrates and no fiber. Although this doesn’t seem like a lot of calories, who only uses 1 tablespoon of BBQ sauce? Eliminating sauces  (i.e. opting for simply grilled chicken rather than a breast slathered in BBQ sauce) can be an easy way to cut calories.

Can’t forgo the tangy sweetness of BBQ sauce? Annie’s Organic Original BBQ Sauce is the #FFACTORAPPROVED pick – read why here. 

CHOOSE LEAN PROTEINS. Lean meats such as chicken, fish, turkey and sirloin provide less calories, saturated fat and cholesterol than high fat meats such as hotdogs and full fat hamburger meat. 1 oz. of lean protein has 45-65 less calories and 5-8 grams less fat than high fat meat. Opt for chicken or shrimp skewers and if your hamburger craving is a must, choose USDA Select or Choice grades of lean beef trimmed of fat, such as ground sirloin.

SUN’S OUT = BUNS OUT.  It should come as no surprise that skipping the hamburger bun (or hotdog roll) is your best bet when working on your waistline. Luckily, it’s reasonably socially acceptable now to go completely bun-less or down the lettuce wrap route when at a BBQ or even a restaurant. If you are going to have your burger, bun and all, opt for one of the whole grain variety. Whole grain products have more fiber than white bread, and fiber, being the indigestible part of carbohydrate, provides bulk without any calories. AKA you’re filling up, without filling you out.

Also, don’t forget you can always go topless–by removing the top half of the bun, you still get the bread as a vessel for your protein, but eliminate excess carbs and calories.

SALADS TO SKIP.  The word “salad” should not be an indicator that a food is healthy and you should be eating platefuls of it. Traditionally made potato and pasta salads are loaded with calories and fat. Aside from being drenched in fat-laden condiments like mayo (potato salad) or Italian dressing (pasta salad), their base–and namesake–ingredients are starches too. Their starchy base means these “salads” pack excess calories in the form of carbohydrates without any fiber, which may cause drops in blood sugar, making you feel lethargic and irritable an hour after you eat them. So, which “salads” get the green light? Those that are usually green to begin with! The summer months bring the freshest, most delicious produce of the year, you must take advantage!

POOLSIDE? LET’S SKINNY DIP.  Picking at snacks poolside is part of the lounging experience. Although chips and dip is easy to both serve and enjoy, it’s a often combination of greasy, fried carbohydrates and trans-fat. Instead, slice some veggies and whip up a skinny dip. A half cup of fresh-cut vegetables will only cost you ~20 calories, and give you a little fiber boost too. Endive, especially, makes a great dip vessel, but bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, radishes, celery, broccoli and cauliflower all work great–and won’t spoil in the sun too quickly–too.

Savory dips like French Onion Dip and Veggie Dip can be made healthier by swapping out fattening sour cream for nonfat Greek yogurt. Nonfat Greek yogurt contains about half the calories and fat, and 3 times the protein of sour cream, and by simply mixing in a packet of soup mix like Lipton, you can have a low cal dip in under a minute.

DRINK RESPONSIBLY.  Although alcohol is allowed on The F-Factor Diet, drinking in the sun can speed up the effects of alcohol, and of course, some choices will be better than others. It is important to drink adequate water when the sun is hot, especially if you are drinking alcohol–alcohol plus sun can equal headache and dehydration. Drinking three liters of water every day is great for your skin, helps regulate bowel function and will prevent dehydration.

In regards to what to drink when imbibing, there are some options. While we don’t usually condone drinking beer or malt beverages like wine coolers, there are some low-carb beers, like Budweiser Select 55, and other carbonated alcoholic beverages that are acceptable in moderation (read more about low carb beers here). Chilled wine or spirits (vodka, tequila) on the rocks or with club soda will always be your best bet. Roses and light white wines like sauvignon blanc and Sancerre are refreshing in the summer months. And while a sommelier would likely find this act deplorable, try adding ice to your wine. This helps to keep you hydrated and cooled down, in addition to slowing your actual alcohol consumption so you don’t accidentally get a little too tipsy. Remember, it’s all fun and games until you’ve misplaced your phone at the bottom of a pool, and take solace the snack cabinet… For #FFACTORAPPROVED summer cocktails recipes, see below.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • Simply grill it – skipping sauces like BBQ sauce is an easy way to cut calories.
  • Skew towards skewers – they’re usually lean proteins, and proper portions.
  • Go topless – the bottom bun is really all you need, Hun.
  • Skip the potato and pasta salad – NOT the same as green salads. Use fresh lettuces like spinach, arugula and rocket lettuce as base for salads instead.
  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE – symptoms of dehydration mimic those of hunger. Both sun and alcohol (never mind the two together) can take a toll on your body water levels, it’s extremely important to drink plenty of water.

GRILLING SAFETY

Grilling is a great way to enjoy the warm weather of the summer months, but as the saying goes, where these’s smoke, there’s fire, and when it comes to firing up the barbecue, safety should be of utmost importance. There are two realms of concern when it comes to grilling. The first is the obvious, the immediate danger of fire, smoke inhalation, burns etc. The second, and lesser thought-about issue regards the harmful agents that develop when foods get torched.

When foods, primarily meats, come in contact with fire (intense flames, smoke and heat), two known cancer-causing agents, heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), can form. The good news is that by following a few key grilling practices, one can significantly cut the formation of HCA and PAH on barbecued food. A great place to start is to remember this: the faster foods are cooked on the grill, the less likely they’ll develop dangerous charring. Therefore, avoid cooking meat past its goal temperature (165 degrees for ground poultry; 160 degrees for ground red meats or mixtures and fresh pork; or 145 degrees for red meat steaks or chops). For more tips on grilling safely, click here.

And, to keep accidents while tending the grill to a minimum, follow these key tips:

  • Clean your grill regularly to avoid grease buildup. Grease can make your food more charred than you want it to be.
  • Even though the party decorations are adorable, they can easily catch fire. So, keep your decorations away from the grill.
  • When you’re manning the grill, let your guests come to you. Don’t leave the grill unattended. If left unattended, a fire can start or your food can become overcooked.
  • Double check to make sure the grill is turned off when you are done.

 

PRO TIP: Throw some sliced vegetables on the grill – asparagus is in season and grills nicely, as does bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini.

SUMMERTIME RECIPES

You know we’ve got lots!

 

For more summertime recipes, click here.