Labor Day, is generally regarded as the last big barbecue of the summer season, and that holiday is just a short week away. But traditional outdoor barbecues, with foods like sugary-sweet barbecue sauces, fatty beef and pork cuts and cholesterol-rich salads on the menu, can be devastating to diets.
It is, however, possible to add a little sizzle to a holiday cookout menu and still stay within reasonable limits for sodium, fat and cholesterol intake, according to a registered dietitian at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood.
"The goal," said Mary Crichton RD, "is to reduce total consumption of fat, and specifically cholesterol and saturated fat and have a healthy--not a heavy--summer barbecue."
Loaded With Saturated Fat
Typical picnic and barbecue fare is often loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar or sodium, said Crichton, who cited hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, potato salad, potato chips and ice cream as some of the worst offenders.
Current recommendations are that only 30% of the day's total calories be derived from fat (with 10% coming from saturated sources), that cholesterol be limited to 300 milligrams and sodium be keep between 1,000 and 3,000 milligrams.
"Beef hot dogs alone can derive as much as 50% of their calories from fat," Crichton reports. "A cheeseburger, potato salad, corn-on-the-cob with butter and salt, baked beans and ice cream contains 1,380 calories, 41% of them from fat."
How to Reach Your Goal
Instead, she advises the health-minded to cut back on foods that won't be given up totally and to substitute more healthful ingredients whenever possible. Here are suggestions from Crichton to accomplish this goal:
--Go easy on the barbecue sauce, which is often high in sugar and sodium and experiment with spices such as garlic, oregano, curry, fresh lemon and lime juice instead.
--Use light mayonnaise or half mayonnaise and half plain yogurt to make potato salad.
--Try skinned chicken, turkey or fish on the grill. But spray the grates with non-stick vegetable coating since these foods have little or no fat and are more difficult to remove.
--Always select extra lean varieties of beef.
--Eat raw vegetables and low-fat dip instead of potato chips, which are high in fat and sodium.
--Wrap potatoes in foil and bake on the grill. Eat plain for a nonfat side dish, or lightly top with low-sodium, nonfat milk cheeses like ricotta for added flavor.
--Select from summer's abundant fresh fruits instead of ice cream for dessert.
--Drink fruit juices and water instead of soft drinks, which contain sugar and caffeine. But read labels on sparkling water since many are sweetened with sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup.
THAI TURKEY KEBABS
1 1/2 pounds turkey breast fillets or turkey tenderloins
1 cup white wine
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger root
3 cloves garlic, minced
Cut turkey into 1-inch cubes. Combine wine, soy sauce, ginger and garlic and pour over turkey. Marinate 2 hours in refrigerator. Remove turkey from marinade and reserve 1/2 cup for use in Peanut Sauce.
Thread turkey on skewers and brush with half of Peanut Sauce. Grill over medium coals 10 to 15 minutes until done, turning frequently.
Meanwhile, heat remaining sauce thoroughly, thinning with additional wine if necessary and serve with turkey kebabs. Makes 6 servings.
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons catsup
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Dash red pepper flakes
Saute onion in sesame and vegetable oil until tender. Whisk in 1/2 cup reserved marinade, peanut butter, brown sugar, catsup, coriander and red pepper flakes.
ISLAND SEAFOOD KEBABS
1 pound firm white fish steaks, about 1-inch thick
1 pouch onion soup and recipe mix
1 (6-ounce) can pineapple juice
2 tablespoons grated ginger root
2 tablespoons oil
1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
8 large mushrooms, halved
16 cherry tomatoes
Cut fish into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
Combine soup mix, juice, ginger and oil in small bowl and mix well. Place fish in shallow bowl and pour marinade over. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Drain fish, reserving marinade, and thread on 8 (10-inch) skewers alternately with pepper squares, mushroom halves and tomatoes. Brush kebabs with marinade and arrange on grill. Grill over medium coals until fish flakes easily when tested with fork and vegetables are tender, turning and basting with marinade occasionally. Makes 4 servings.
ICED MEXICAN AVOCADO SOUP
1 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 large avocado, halved and pitted
1 cup low-sodium tomato sauce or tomato juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 cup nonfat milk
1 cucumber, peeled and cubed
Melt butter in saucepan. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add broth and simmer 10 minutes. Scoop avocado into blender. Pour in onion-broth mixture, tomato sauce and cumin. Blend until smooth, adding in 2 batches if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover and chill. Stir in milk before serving and garnish with cucumber. Makes 5 to 6 servings.
GRILLED CHICKEN TIJUANA
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
3 pounds chicken breast
Combine garlic, salt and pepper in small bowl or custard cup and mash to form paste. Mix in cilantro and lime zest. Spread mixture under skin of each chicken piece. Grill chicken about 6 inches above medium-hot coals 20 to 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Arrange on serving platter and garnish with lime slices and cilantro sprigs. Makes 4 servings.
Note: To reduce fat, remove skin before eating chicken.