Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial summer kick off. The weather is warm, the school year is winding down, and many of us are firing up the grills for the summer. Barbecues are a great chance for us to spend time with family and friends and to enjoy the outdoors. This summer, make your barbecues fun and healthy for all ages.

Typical barbecue foods often include hotdogs, hamburgers, and ribs. While these choices are tasty, they tend to be high in stuarated fat and calories. When choosing a protein to grill, try to reduce the amount of red meat and mix up your grilling routine. Swap out the burgers and hotdogs for marinated chicken, turkey burgers, or even veggie burgers. Seafood also makes a great substitute on the grill. Try shrimp, salmon, or another fish for your next BBQ. If you stick with hamburgers and hotdogs, opt for choice or select grades of beef and pick up whole-grain buns. Lettuce wraps also make a great substitute for your bun if you want to cut out some extra calories or carbohydrates.

Don’t just think about the meat when you grill. Mix in some healthy sides to lighten up your BBQ. Grilled vegetables like corn make tasty additions to any meal. Add in some color with tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, eggplant, peppers, and asparagus. Kebabs are a fun way to cook protein and veggies together. Looking for a healthier option for dessert? Grilled pineapple and peaches topped with cinnamon are naturally sweet and caramelize in the heat of the grill. It is the perfect way to top off your barbecue!

After you eat, you can spend time playing outdoor games. Toss a football, throw a frisbee, or play soccer with the entire family to stay active.

Tips for Safe Grilling:

  • Never leave the grill unattended and keep children away from the grill area
  • Use long-handled tools when grilling to avoid getting too close to the heat and flames
  • Let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container
  • Keep the grill clean by removing grease buildup from the grill and trays
  • Do not add lighter fluid to an already lit grill

Sources: The American Heart Association, Safe Kids Worldwide. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.