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BBQ Make Over

If anticipation of the next family BBQ leaves you feeling hot under the collar, no sweat. A BBQ doesn't have to dish out the calories and fat. Here's how to make your next summer soiree a bit on the lighter side.

BBQ's invariably mean hot dogs, hamburgers, coleslaw, fresh corn on the cob, potato salad, and an array of cookies, brownies, and ice cream. Sound good? Well, with a little recipe magic you can whip up a lower fat, higher fiber BBQ that is satisfying, delicious, and healthy.

The first place to start is the grocery store. There is a big nutritional difference between a regular hot dog and a lower fat, lower salt version. Ball Park Fat Free Franks and Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Franks are two brands that have taken out the fat, lowered the sodium, and still make you feel like you're standing at home plate. By making a hot dog switch, you can spare yourself about 130 calories and 16 grams of fat per dog! Of course, you can always throw a few veggie dogs on the grill for your vegetarian niece. Tasty and cholesterol free, Yves Veggie Cuisine Fat-Free wieners are big hit with the teens.

Same advice goes for hamburgers. Buy lean ground beef or turkey, and load up on the fixings. By adding a pile of lettuce, tomato, and some grilled red onions, you add a bit fiber to help fill you up faster. You can also try a veggie burger for variety. The Morningstar line of faux meats is a sure home run.

Besides buying whole wheat buns, serving iced tea instead of sugar-laden soda, and upgrading your trans fat greasy finger potato chips to an olive oil crusted sweet potato chip, you can trim your menu by slimming down your sides. Try a French style potato salad marinated with white wine, mustard, tarragon, and olive oil, or a Greek potato salad dressed in a low fat yogurt sauce with dill and mint. Both will save you the cholesterol and saturated fat of traditional egg and mayonnaise dressing.

Coleslaw can be a colorful, low saturated fat and fiber packed addition to any meal. Keep the coleslaw honest by dressing it with rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, ginger, and a touch of sweetener. The Asian flavor will wow your guests with its authenticity.

Baked beans are good... but a chick pea salad with fresh parsley, lemon juice, and garlic is better. Baked beans can be loaded with added sugar. Keeping beans on the menu means more fiber and a low fat source of protein. A colorful black beans salad with red pepper, corn, and cilantro will perk up any party table and keep you slim in your swimsuit.

What about dessert? Fresh fruit is a staple during summer months. Topping it with homemade whipped cream can be a delightful and healthier alternative to brownie a la mode. Focusing on fruit based desserts ensures a bit of nutrition even in dessert. Watch out for pre-made pie crusts filled with trans fats. Whole Foods sells a trans free frozen pie crust that saves the time of making it from scratch.

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