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Spice Up Your Summer BBQs and Picnics

WebMD gives you tips on how to make typical barbeque favorites go from average to amazing.
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The Main Course

Some people cannot imagine a barbeque or picnic without the sizzle of steaks or burgers. That's fine as long as you veer toward the leaner options.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (round eye, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts. The leanest pork options include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham.

To ensure you get the healthiest kind of ground beef, look for the label that says it is at least 90% lean.

Instead of frying or breading meats and seafood, try broiling, grilling, roasting, poaching, or boiling them.

Here are other ways of ensuring a healthy and exotic entrée:

  • Marinate meats with sauces that are low in fat, sodium, sugar, and calories. Try the Indian chicken Tikka, which combines low-fat yogurt, lemon, salt, onion, garlic, ginger, cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, cumin, cloves, black peppercorns, and nutmeg. Lalita Kaul, RD, PhD, a spokeswoman for the ADA, and a professor of nutritionnutrition at Howard University Medical School in Washington, suggests adding fresh, hot green chili to add a kick to the marinade.
  • Go Mexican and add fajita, taco, enchilada, and burrito mixes to your lean meats. Mix in onions, garlic, and cilantro for extra flavor.
  • Serve meats with fresh salsa on top. In Dorfman's The Tropical Diet, there is a recipe for Island Pork with a colorful fruit salsa. The salsa contains chopped mango pieces, Tabasco sauce, chopped red bell peppers, pineapple chunks, fresh cilantro, and chopped red onions.

Desserts and Drinks

No need to disregard your sweet tooth. There are plenty of healthy options for desserts.

Exotic fruits are obvious selections. Try passion fruit, pomegranate, carambola (starfruit), cherimoya, or lychees.

You can eat fruits as is, baked, or in fruit salads, juices, smoothies, and sorbets.

Here are other suggestions for desserts and drinks:

  • Stay cool with the halo-halo, a Filipino concoction of crushed ice, sweet red beans, jackfruit, coconut meat, sweet yam, and milk.
  • Use nonfat or low-fat milk in recipes. In Dorfman's book, she offers a low-fat version of the traditionally high-fat Latin dessert called Tres Leches. Nonfat versions of milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk are used. Chopped kiwi is also added to the batter, and the cake is topped with fresh strawberries and mandarin oranges.
  • Take a swig of the South Asian lassi, which combines nonfat yogurt with ice, mango pulp, salt, or sugar. The traditional lassi can be seasoned with ground-roasted cumin.
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Reviewed on July 11, 2006

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