Slashing Calories in Condiments, Toppings and Marinades

You’ve taken the first step towards a healthy cookout and selected some lean cuts of meat to grill. But what you add to that meat can also make or break your best laid plans.

Watch out for higher calorie, higher fat toppings such as cheese, mayonnaise and bacon. Instead have plenty of healthier alternatives on hand to build your own “better” burger or sandwich! Get creative with:

  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Pickles
  • Salsa
  • Reduced fat cheese; the stronger the better because you can use less! Opt for sharp cheddar made with 2% milk, reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles or light feta.
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Reduced-fat mayo (limit to 1 tablespoon)
  • Steak sauce
  • Relish
  • Canadian bacon versus bacon
  • Avocado or guacamole (limit to 1 tablespoon)

To pack in even more nutrients, try eating your burger or sandwich on a whole grain bun or roll; they have more fiber.

Leaner cuts of meat tend to dry out more readily than higher fat cuts of meat. Keep meats moist and flavorful by using a marinade or rub. Mix up your own when possible as store-bought products can be higher in sodium and sugar.

Basic marinades contain a mixture of oil (use heart-healthy olive or canola), lemon or lime juice, a dash of salt, pepper, herbs and spices. The Mrs. Dash line of products boasts an array of pre-mixed seasonings to give you a head start in creating a delicious product. Marinate meats in a covered glass container or plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours in advance of cooking. Do not use the same marinade to baste meat while cooking unless you bring the marinade to a boil first in order to kill foodborne illness causing bacteria.

Barbecue sauce is another popular addition to grilled meats, but use it with caution because of its higher carbohydrate content. I suggest marinating meat with seasonings then brushing on barbecue sauce in the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking to add flavor with fewer carbs.

Dry rubs also add great flavor to meats, but store-bought rubs can contain high amounts of sodium and/or sugar. Read labels carefully or concoct your own blend of seasonings. Rub the blend onto meats right before cooking or allow to marinate for up to 24 hours to let the meat absorb the flavors. Apply the rub by working it into the surface of the meat with your fingers or place meat and rub in a large plastic zipper bag and shake.

By using some of these simple techniques, you’ll be surprised how much flavor you can add to your grilled meats sans the fat!

Next week’s summer grilling topic: Slimming the Sides.

Inspired by Summer Grilling by Lea Ann Holzmeister, RD, LD published in the May/June 2012 Issue of Diabetes Self-Management.

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