Last month Cleveland resident Jeff “The Beast” Man Butler showed up at Crocker Park for a kind of summer picnic challenge. In 10 minutes, he munched his way through 22 hot dogs and buns, earning a spot to compete in Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island.
When you think of backyard barbecues and summertime grilling, hot dogs might be standard fare served at picnics. But if you’re aiming to eat healthy, cross hot dogs off the list. Why? Most hot dogs are made from processed meat and are loaded with sodium and saturated fat. Meat can be a good source of protein important for muscle growth and repair, but it’s important to choose the right kind of meat. Rewrite your shopping list and choose one of these five lean and healthy options to throw on the grill.
1. Chicken. Cooked on the grill and seasoned with herbs and spices, or low-sodium barbecue sauce, chicken is a lean and healthy grilling option. And it’s low in calories and high in protein. For example, half a chicken breast cooked on the grill contains about 140 calories and 27 grams of lean protein. It’s an ideal food to include in your diet to support muscle growth and repair.
2. Ground Turkey. A barbecue with hamburgers may be considered a crime. But traditional beef patties are typically high in saturated fat. Fortunately a much healthier option that tastes just as good is ground turkey burgers. Buy ground turkey at the store and make your own patties. Without a lot of fat, ground turkey patties can turn out a little dry, so mix your patties with a little olive oil before you toss them on the grill.
3. Pork Tenderloin. Skip the pork chops, and choose a pork tenderloin. Why? Pork chops are high in calories and saturated fat. A pork tenderloin contains half the calories of a typical pork chop, and very little fat, but a 4-ounce pork tenderloin still contains about 22 grams of protein. Instead of lathering in sauce, use an off-the-shelf dry rub, or make your own with dried oregano, garlic, ground cumin, and thyme.
4. Flank Steak. If you’re a steak-lover, pass by the T-bone and rib-eye steaks in the meat department and find the flank steaks. It’s leaner, less expensive, and low in saturated fat compared to other red meats. Plus there’s about 23 grams of protein in a single serving size. Flank steak cooks a little drier than other red meats, but it’s healthier. Soften it up with a low-sodium marinade, or slice it up to include in tacos or quesadillas and your favorite toppings.
5. Fish. If you haven’t cooked fish on the grill, give it a try this summer. Salmon, tuna, and trout are three of the healthiest fish to grill that you can find at the store. Fish is a healthy source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, and is low in calories. Season fish with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and other herbs and spices and toss it on the grill.
When it’s time for your next backyard barbecue, pick one of these meats to grill instead of the traditional beef patties or hot dogs. You’ll be eating healthier and still enjoy cooking on the grill.