By Charles Platkin
We eat differently during the summer. We're outdoors more, so we're grilling, picnicking, drinking, hanging around and sometimes eating on the run, all of which can contribute excess calories. With a little help, you can redo some of those fattening summer recipes without sacrificing taste.
• Barbecue spareribs
Typically made with sugar, barbecue sauce, honey and other fattening extras, you can be getting in about 650 calories for five medium ribs. The fat on the ribs, plus the sauce, slathered on in layers, adds up.
Nutrition fix: First of all, use babyback ribs. They're the smallest, which helps with portion control. Place them on the grill without any barbecue sauce; just season with kosher salt, fresh pepper and garlic powder. Cook for 30-40 minutes, watching carefully so they don't burn. Serve with barbecue sauce or hot sauce on the side.
If you must have regular ribs, be sure to trim off the visible fat and only use one coating of sauce.
A 6-ounce burger has about 500 calories without the bun. Mayo (1 tablespoon) and cheese (a deli slice) will add about 100 calories each. Don't forget about the bun: It has about 120-150 calories.
Nutrition fix: Skip the cheese. Use lettuce and tomatoes, instead. Stick to ketchup, mustard, pickles and veggies for extra flavor. Use lean ground beef instead of regular, and spray the pan or grill with cooking spray to compensate for the lack of fat. Give your burger extra texture and flavor by mixing the meat with chopped mushrooms, water chestnuts, peppers and onions. You'll have the same size burger, but it will be much lower in calories.
For even fewer calories, you can make white meat-turkey burgers. Mix the meat with egg whites (two per pound), water, salt, pepper and onion powder.
An average 2-ounce beef hotdog has 150 calories, but that can vary depending on the ingredients and the brand. Add 120 calories for the bun, and you're already at almost 300 calories per dog. Add another 75-100 calories for an ounce of cheese, 30 calories each for 2 tablespoons of ketchup, mustard or sweet relish, and 60 more for 2.5 ounces of chili. You also have the preservatives, nitrates and all the other
Nutrition fix: Stick with sauerkraut, ketchup, mustard and relish. Stay away from cheesy sauces and chili. Choose Applegate Organic Uncured Hot Dogs made from 100-percent-organic grass-fed and finished beef or a similar type of hot dog. Make sure they are free of preservatives and nitrites. Instead of a bun, see if you can buy 100 percent whole-wheat buns or wrap it in a piece of whole wheat bread.
• Fried chicken
Deep-fried chicken with the skin can be very costly calorie-wise. Just one 3.5-ounce fried breast is about 250 calories, and one drumstick with skin is about 200 calories.
Nutrition fix: Dunk skinless chicken into a bowl of beaten egg whites and then into a bowl of breadcrumbs. Coat the pieces lightly with cooking spray, and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes at 350-400 degrees. This saves more than 75 calories per piece of chicken.
• Pasta salad
Pasta or macaroni salad generally has, in addition to the pasta, some type of creamy or fattening dressing made with mayonnaise or olive oil, plus cheese, nuts, vegetables, ham, eggs, chicken, tuna and even pepperoni. For 1 cup, depending on ingredients, you're looking at 500-650 calories.
Nutrition fix: Use 100 percent whole-wheat pasta — the increased fiber content will fill you up faster. Fill the bowl with mostly vegetables; they're low in calories. Most salad dressings are packed with calories. Use light vinaigrette or one made from a light mayonnaise base. Or use an olive oil mister and season the salad with spices such as pepper, garlic, oregano or basil to liven things up without extra calories.
Coleslaw is basically cabbage, mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar, but some also add olive oil and other ingredients. The end result can be more than 350 calories per cup.
Nutrition fix: Make it yourself. You can find coleslaw mixes in the vegetable section at the grocery store that make it simple. Use light or non-fat mayonnaise, replace the sugar with honey and add some green and red peppers to increase the yield while cutting calories.
• Ice cream
One cup of premium ice cream can have more than 500 calories, and you probably eat 2 cups, plus toppings.
Nutrition fix: Use a cup, not a cone, and save anywhere from 20 calories (for a wafer cone) to more than 300 calories (for a waffle cone with chocolate). Avoid nut toppings and sprinkles. Try to go with an ice cream bar — the low-cal versions, such as Fudgsicle — or a frozen fruit bar (approximately 70 calories, make sure it's all fruit). They're portion-controlled, and you can't add toppings. Avoid gelato and stick with sorbet to save a couple hundred calories. Or try Italian ices at only 100 calories per cup. Frozen yogurt (regular or soft-serve) can be just as high in calories as ice cream. Always choose fat-free kinds and watch portions.
On a relaxing summer day, a pitcher of lemonade on the front porch sounds good, but if it's made with sugar, it can also be very high in calories, especially when it's hot outside and we drink a lot. Just a few glasses could cost about 600 calories.
Nutrition fix: Make it yourself and squeeze real lemons. Three ounces of lemon juice have about 30 calories. Use about 1/3 juice and 2/3 water and add agave or honey to taste.
Charles Platkin, Ph.D., is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com, and the director of the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College. Copyright 2017 by Charles Platkin. All rights reserved. Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at www.dietdetective.com.
- Category: Health