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How to Slim Down Your Backyard Barbecue

Cookouts don't have to be diet-killers. Just learn a few ways to slim down your favorite recipes.


  • Step 1: De-fat the main event Grill lean cuts of red meat, like sirloin, rib eye, and tenderloin, or cook a thick fish fillet like tuna, swordfish, or salmon. For burgers, use 90 to 95 percent lean beef or make them with buffalo meat, known as bison – it delivers a meaty taste with less fat and cholesterol than beef or even chicken with skin.
  • TIP: If you're making beef burgers, replace one-fourth of the chopped meat with fresh cherry pulp or prune puree to add moisture and cut down on fat without sacrificing flavor.
  • Step 2: Make your own marinades Control the calorie content of marinades by making them yourself. A good olive oil mixed with fresh lemon juice and herbs works well.
  • Step 3: Pare down the potato salad Make German potato salad, which skips mayonnaise in favor of vinaigrette.
  • TIP: Mix in thinly sliced cucumbers for extra taste and crunch.
  • Step 4: Pump up the slaw Leave the mayonnaise out of coleslaw and add shredded broccoli for extra nutrients. Or give it an Asian twist with rice vinegar, lime juice, and fish sauce dressing.
  • Step 5: Serve reduced-fat baked beans Reduce the fat in baked beans by using ground turkey and turkey bacon instead of beef and replacing a quarter of the beans with chopped apples. Or, mix a couple of cans of black beans with some fresh salsa for a meatless, but just as tasty, side dish.
  • Step 6: Think outside the box When it comes to vegetables, think beyond corn on the cob. Broccoli, romaine lettuce, and carrots take on a new character when wrapped in foil and cooked on a grill.
  • Step 7: Throw some fruit on the barbie Grill some fruit for dessert. Pineapples, peaches, nectarines, and plums all barbecue nicely; just spritz them with a little nonstick cooking spray beforehand so they don't stick to the grill.
  • FACT: Potato salad is the most popular side dish at barbecues, followed by baked beans and coleslaw.

You Will Need

  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Homemade marinades
  • German potato salad
  • Shredded broccoli
  • Rice-wine vinegar
  • lime
  • and fish sauce dressing
  • Ground turkey and turkey bacon
  • Apples
  • Canned beans
  • Fresh salsa
  • Vegetables
  • Aluminum foil
  • Fruit
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Cherry pulp or prune puree
  • Cucumbers

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