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Main Line Health nutritionists offer Fourth of July barbecue picks

Main Line Health June 29, 2015 Wellness Articles

Barbecue foodsFourth of July celebrations can be fun, but if you’re trying to navigate all those backyard parties while watching your diet, you might be feeling more fearful than festive.

We asked four Main Line Health nutrition pros what advice they have for anyone who is watching their waistline this weekend, and they told us which dishes they’d skip, and which ones they’d pick. Check out their selections below.

Lynn Nichols, outpatient dietitian for the Diabetes Management Program at Riddle Hospital

Skip the: High-calorie sides, like macaroni salad, pasta salad, cheese, pepperoni, and potato chips. These provide very little nutritional value, and a lot of carbohydrates with very little fiber, so they won’t fill you up.

Pick the: Green salad with dressing, or a vegetable pasta salad that is primarily veggies, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers with a small amount of whole grain pasta. Fruit salad and fruit kabobs are also nutritious and make a great side or dessert. Better yet—grill fruit is delicious! It can be a great side or topping for grilled chicken breasts or grilled chicken kabobs.

Mary Ann Martin, outpatient nutrition counselor for the Diabetes Management Program at Paoli Hospital

Skip the: Red meat. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks are going to be on the menu at a lot of backyard parties this season and, in moderation, these meats are okay to have. But red, processed meats can contribute to an increased risk of cancer, especially when they’re cooked at a higher temperature and charred.

Pick the: Fish. Grilled tilapia tacos with chipotle lime dressing are a great alternative to red meat. If you’re not a fan of seafood, try a veggie alternative like barbecue veggie kabobs.

Judy Matusky, RD, LDN, nutrition specialist at Bryn Mawr and Paoli hospitals

Skip the: Hot dogs, hamburgers, and mayo-heavy potato salads. If you just can't pass up a hamburger, opt for lean hamburger with lettuce and tomato, and skip the bun.

Pick the: Grilled summer vegetables. Zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes are delicious summer produce. And, of course, a summer barbecue isn't complete without corn on the cob. When it's grilled, corn on the cob is so sweet you won't miss the butter and salt. I also like grilled fruit for dessert, with a scoop of ice cream or angel food cake.

Chris Hurley, outpatient nutrition counselor for the Diabetes Management Program at Main Line Health Center in Newtown Square

Skip the: Pie. I know dessert can be a favorite for many people, but you can satisfy your sweet tooth with something much healthier.

Pick the: Frozen yogurt, or fresh fruit salad. I prefer to freeze my containers of Greek yogurt, so it tastes like I'm having ice cream or a frozen treat.

Looking for more tips to make your backyard parties a little healthier this season? We've got five simple steps right here.