7 Simple Ways to Stay on Track at the BBQ

7 Simple Ways to Stay on Track at the BBQ

Backyard barbecues are a real minefield when you”;re trying to lose weight and stay healthy. First, most of them are a carnivore”;s delight–;lots of steak, burgers and bratwurst sizzling irresistibly on the grill. Second, cookouts redefine salad as “;something soaking in high-fat mayonnaise.”; And the desserts? Fuggedaboutit, even if you do have room after that outdoor feast.

But if you choose to step away from your diet plan to take in the festivities, you can till successfully stay on track at the BBQ by making good choices and doing a little prep. First, know which foods to stay away from (or at least to keep to a teeny tiny portion size). Click here to get our list of the 5 Worst Calorie Bombs at the BBQ. Then, be smart about the food choices you make while there. Here’s how to keep winning at weight loss without missing out on the fun:

1. Volunteer to Bring the Apps
If you don”;t want your only choice to be chips and high-calorie onion dip or a cheese and sausage tray, offer to bring a gorgeous cut veggie plate with low-fat dip, or baked chips with salsa or hummus.

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2. BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat)
Easy enough to do when you”;re hosting and much appreciated by your hosts when you”;re not, since meat is the most expensive part of the meal. Check first that your host is okay with it. If he or she is planning a gourmet feast of kobe beef or individual quail, you may just want to exercise portion control. But it”;s just as easy to throw a turkey or veggie burger or hot dog on the grill when the grillmaster is cooking regular burgers and brats. Friends are usually happy to accommodate you.

If you have the choice, go for grilled chicken, fish or lean beef. Even a regular hot dog is less fatty and calorie-laden than other kinds of sausage. Save a load of calories and carbs by saying no to the bun and cheese. Avoid mayo. Stick to mustard, dill relish or a little ketchup (just a little since it”;s full of sugar which can stimulate your appetite).

3. Take a Small Scoop of Coleslaw
Even if it”;s made with high-fat mayonnaise, one serving (around three ounces) is only about 172 calories and has two grams of fiber (thank you cabbage!), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Better yet, make your own–;just substitute low-cal mayo for the regular or do a vinegar-based dressing and you can cut the calories by as much a two-thirds.

4. Have Some Baked Beans
Stick to half a cup or less because they”;re high in calories. One cup has more than 300 of them, depending on the brand. But they”;re high in satisfying fiber–;half a cup of Bush”;s Original, for example, has five grams of fiber for only 150 calories.* Be sure to opt for low-sodium varieties if you’re the bean-bringer.

5. Load Up on Green Salad
This time of year, produce is abundant. Bring your own green salad (add lots of low-cal veggies) to share as well as bottle of low-cal dressing. Or, opt for grilled veggie kebabs, which are full of fiber and go light on calories.

6. Have Whole Wheat Pasta Salad
The chances of someone making this? Pretty slim. But you don”;t have to be much of a cook to throw together an awesome pasta salad. Pick a fun shape, like corkscrew (fusilli), wagon wheels, bowties or gemelli. Add some veggies, like halved cherry tomatoes, fresh peas, snapbeans (blanched a little to soften them), grated carrots, edamame (soybeans), corn, scallions, peppers, onions or whatever you have fresh. Punch up the flavor with fresh herbs, like basil, oregano or mint or even shavings of ginger with a light dressing of olive oil and balsamic or flavored vinegar with a touch of Dijon mustard to bind it. A sprinkling of fat-free feta adds some protein with very few calories.

7. For Dessert, Think Fresh or Frozen
End your meal with a slice of watermelon, a scoop of fruit salad or fruity sorbet, or a healthier frozen fruit bar like Outshine brand*, which has 60-80 calories, depending on the flavor, and contains no high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener research suggests may put you at risk for obesity and diabetes.

The post 7 Simple Ways to Stay on Track at the BBQ appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

5 Low Calorie Condiments to Use at the BBQ

5 Low Calorie Condiments to Use at the BBQ

You can still enjoy the delicious fun of summertime cookouts and stay on track with your weight loss goal. We have lots of lower-calorie ideas to help you do that, such as 5 Better for You Burger Recipes You”;ll Love > and Healthier Potato Salad> But while you are choosing healthy dishes like those, be aware that sneaky excess calories are lurking in places where you might not expect them. Condiments may seem like just little dabs of flavor, but, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a single tablespoon of ketchup can have four grams of sugar and an equal amount of mayonnaise can come with 90 calories and 10 grams of fat. That”;s why they”;re counted as “;Extras”; in your Nutrisystem weight loss plan (Not on Nutrisystem yet? Click here to get started >). Good news: These five low calorie condiments are loaded with flavor. Better news: They are all “;Free”; foods you can enjoy to your heart”;s content.

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Here”;s what you need to know about choosing and using low calorie condiments :
1. Mustard

honey mustard

The seeds from the mustard plant, a leafy green with a spicy flavor, are ground up and blended with vinegar and other ingredients to make the familiar yellow condiment. The color actually comes from turmeric, another flavorful spice. The mustard shelf at the grocery store is filled with lots of choices, from mild, smooth-textured bright yellow types to browner, grainier and very hot varieties. Dijon mustard is blended with white wine to add a tart flavor to balance the moderately spicy taste of the mustard. Beware of honey mustard, which has added sugar, and “;dijonnaise,”; which has all the excess calories and fats of mayonnaise.

TRY: Mustard is most commonly used to add zest to burgers and hot dogs, but it makes a tasty glaze for grilled chicken, fish or vegetables. You can also use it to make a low calorie flavorful salad dressing, such as our Creamy Honey Mustard topping >

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2. Lemon/Lime Juice

low-calorie lemon lime juice

Your food gets a spark of bright, acidic flavor from the juice of these two citrus fruits. Both are nearly calorie-free and loaded with vitamin C. Generally, lemons are slightly more sour than limes, while for many people the latter has a lightly bitter taste. Fresh lemons and limes have the best flavor and they”;re easy to slice up and squeeze for juice by hand. You can also find packaged lemon and lime juice in supermarkets–;just be sure before you buy that they are pure juice and contain no added sweeteners.

TRY: Fresh lemon or lime juice adds a refreshing splash of flavor to calorie-free seltzer. These juices also brighten the taste of grilled fish or chicken, and they add a spark of acid to mixed and fruit salads. Briefly grill lemon or lime halves to infuse them with a smoky taste that gives many dishes a flame-cooked flavor.

3. Hot Sauce

low calorie condiments

Also known as chili sauce or pepper sauce, this spicy condiment is made from hot peppers blended with a little vinegar. Hot sauce comes in a wide range of heat options, from mildly tongue tingling to five-alarm fire. Those made with habanero or ghost peppers tend to be the spiciest. Sriracha (sometimes call “;rooster sauce”; because of the image on its label) is a popular Vietnamese-style hot sauce that”;s moderately spicy. According to BioMed Central, all hot sauces are loaded with capsaicin, the heat-bearing compound that research shows speeds metabolism and can help burn fat.

TRY: Unless you”;re an experienced hot-sauce lover, start with just a few drops on your food and add more once you”;ve tasted it. Mix a little hot sauce into ground turkey to punch up the flavor of your burgers with one of the most flavorful low calorie condiments. Sprinkle a little on grilled vegetables or seafood, such a shrimp or clams. Use hot sauce to make a zesty (and sugar-free) marinade for meats by whisking it with a little olive oil, fresh lime juice, minced garlic and chopped scallions.

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4. Salsa

low calorie condiments

When we think of salsa, we typically picture a chunky sauce made with tomatoes, chile peppers and onions that comes in various levels of spiciness. You can also find salsas that are based on tomatillos (green or “;salsa verde”;) or fruit such as mangoes or pineapple. When shopping for bottled salsa, be sure to check the label for added sugar, which will load on extra calories. To get all the goodness and nothing more, you can use our recipe to whip up your own fresh salsa in minutes.

TRY: Skip the cream-based dips and instead slip your veggies into a bowl of one of our favorite low calorie condiments: Salsa. Make quick and healthy guacamole for dipping by blending salsa and lemon or lime juice with mashed avocado. Hold the ketchup and top your burger with a spoonful of salsa. Fruit-based salsas turn plain grilled fish into tropical treat.

5. Vinegar

low calorie condiments

According to the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, vinegar is made, like wine, by fermentation, which in this case produces acetic acid rather than alcohol. While vinegar generally has a tangy flavor, you”;ll see a variety of types made with such ingredients as apple cider, red wine, and even champagne, each with slightly different tastes. Balsamic vinegar, made from grapes leftover from wine-making, is dark-colored and tends to be thicker and more flavor-intense than other types. Vinegar has long been used in cooking as well as a folk remedy for many conditions. One recent study even found that vinegar may prevent spikes in blood sugar, which can be very beneficial for people with diabetes.

TRY: Vinegar infused with herbs such as tarragon or basil make a flavorful (and calorie-free) salad dressing. A trick many chefs use is to splash roasted or grilled meats or vegetables with a little vinegar while they”;re still warm, which brings out the full flavor of the ingredients. Use apple cider vinegar in place of the creamy dressing in coleslaw or potato to reduce their fat content.

Interested in learning more about low-calorie options? Check out more recipes here >

The post 5 Low Calorie Condiments to Use at the BBQ appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

10 Tips for a Healthy Home Cookout

10 Tips for a Healthy Home Cookout

We may not be able to gather in ballparks or big groups yet, but summer is coming. Whether your area is still on lockdown or starting to loosen restrictions, you can always enjoy a healthy cookout in the comfort of your own home. Memorial Day isn’t canceled and warm weather has arrived. Take your social distancing to the backyard and whip up some nutritious and delicious food that fits into your Nutrisystem plan.

In many places, smaller gatherings are going to be allowed with proper social distancing. Depending on the regulations where you live, these small, at-home gatherings are going to be more important than ever–;reconnecting, in person, with loved ones for Memorial Day or weekends beyond. With the right recipes and meal idea ideas, it can also be a satisfying, delicious way to boost your immunity and keep pushing towards your weight loss goals. We put together these 10 tips for making your at-home cookout a healthy reunion.

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Here are 10 easy tips for a healthy backyard barbecue:
1. Don”;t starve yourself before the cookout.

healthy breakfast

We”;ve all done it–;skipping meals before a big event to “;save up”; calories for the party spread. But when you”;re trying to lose weight, this can backfire. You can get so hungry that you wind up eating even more than your planned “;splurge.”;

Keep yourself from going so far overboard–;and from showing up hangry–;by keeping your blood sugar stable. Eat your prescribed Nutrisystem foods and snacks before the party and save any SmartCarbs or PowerFuels to go with your cookout meal. The fiber, protein and healthy fats in your normal meals will keep you from being too hungry, so you can measure portions of your cookout favorites and stay on track.

2. Start by filling half of your plate with veggies.

cookout grilled veggies

Less than 10 percent of Americans get their recommended daily servings of vegetables, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They explain that eating two to three cups per day can reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and yes, obesity.

By eating an abundance of vegetables, you”;re getting a lot of water with your food. Eating water-rich foods means that you can have more volume for less calories. This can ultimately help you lose weight. According to Science Daily, Penn State research discovered that “women who added water-rich foods to their diets lost more weight during the first six months of the study than those who only reduced fat in their diets.”

So, start with the veggies and use the grill to make them even more delicious! Get some Leaf-approved tips for grilling tomatoes, mushrooms and greens for even more flavor by clicking here! >

3. Find tasty, low-calorie side dish recipes on the Leaf.

home cookout

A “;healthy”; cookout doesn”;t mean the food is boring–;it should be just the opposite! The Leaf Weight Loss Blog is your source for keeping things deliciously diet-friendly. Spice up your coleslaw game with sweet options like this Broccoli Slaw with Cranberries and Lime or a fiery, crunchy bowl of this Spicy Peanut Slaw. Or go cucumber crazy: Whip up some of this five-star rated Cucumber Dill Dip or a bowl of this Zesty Cucumber and Dill Salad.

Find more recipes like these healthy cookout sides right here! >

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4. Tackle your cravings head-on.

cookout cravings

Now that your plate features some veggies, get down to business. Identify the cookout food you”;re craving most and dish out a healthy, measured portion. That”;s advice straight from our Nutrisystem registered dietitians: If you”;re really craving a food, you should eat it. Denying yourself a small piece of a favorite pie or a slice of cheese on your burger won”;t make the craving go away–;it will more likely lead you to graze on other fare, unsatisfied. It”;s better to have a portion you can measure and enjoy, so you can calm your cravings and stay on track.

Click here for more surprising weight loss tips from our health experts! >

5. Keep the calories on your plate, not in your glass.

cookout recipes

Sugary beverages are thought to be a big part of the obesity epidemic in America: From 1977 to the year 2001, Americans increased their daily consumption of sweetened beverages “from 50 to 144 calories per day, says The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Over the course of a year, that could add up to over 50,000 extra calories!

Keep your calories down and the flavor up with something summery and fun that features fruit: Try one of these refreshing summer mocktails! > If you”;re a beer drinker, choose one that satisfies for fewer calories–;like one of these 10 low-calorie beers that actually taste good. >

6. No grill? No problem! Pan sear your meat for a crisp crust worthy of the grill.

cookout recipes

If your go-to grill move typically involves heading to a local park, you may not have a grill in your backyard. However, you can get the same flavors you love inside by pan searing your meat to perfection.

Brush a cast iron skillet with oil and turn the burner on high. Make sure to turn on the exhaust fan so your smoke alarm doesn”;t go off! Brush a small amount of olive oil on each side of the steak and season liberally with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, cook the steak for 90 seconds to two minutes on each side. Then transfer the steak–;in the pan–;to the oven to bake at 325 degrees for five to seven minutes until medium-rare.

7. Marinate meat to fight cancer.

marinated meat

When you grill meat, compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are created, according to Natural Medicine Journal. HCAs are considered carcinogens and are said to increase the risk of a cancer. However, marinating your meat in herb-infused mixtures, especially ones including rosemary, can decrease the formation of HCAs on your grill by up to 70 percent.

Try this simple, rosemary marinade for beef: Mix a half-cup of red wine vinegar, two tablespoons olive oil, a quarter-cup of chopped rosemary, two crushed garlic cloves and salt and pepper to taste. Marinate the meat for at least an hour, then drain and cook.

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8. Grill some fruit for a sweet, surprising dessert.

grilled peaches

Grilled watermelon, pineapple, peaches and plums are bursting with flavor: The grilling caramelizes their natural sugar, so the foods taste even sweeter. These delicious and refreshing fruits are packed with fiber and immunity-boosting vitamins. Plus, they are much lower in calories than the sad, melting fare you”;ll usually find at a cookout”;s dessert table.

Get grilling tips for a variety of different fruits right here on The Leaf! Check out this guide for 10 fruits that taste even better grilled. >

9. Don”;t focus just on the food!

cookout recipes

Sure, it”;s a “;cookout,”; and burgers and dogs are delicious. However, it”;s not the reason everyone”;s together. We”;re finally able to get together. So, have a plate and make sure it satisfies. Sit down, take your time and concentrate on the flavors and textures of these delicious cookout foods. In a recent study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers looked at the eating habits of 60,000 people. They found that eating slowly can decrease the risk of obesity.

When you”;re finished eating your healthy barbecue meal, put your focus on those around you. We”;ve all been apart so long that this could be easier than ever. But make a point of remembering: This event is about food, yes, but it”;s really about being together. So be present and be together (even if it”;s six feet apart)!

10. Have a plan for the food and the leftovers.

cookout recipes

In most places, the number of people who can gather will be limited in the coming months. Keep this in mind as you shop and cook: You only need enough food for 10 or less people, not for the normal 20 or 30!

But if spreading out a smorgasbord is in your cultural DNA, have a plan in place for the aftermath. Before guests arrive, figure out how many portions of each type of dish you can plan to add to your eating schedule in the following days. If there”;s a favorite dessert, salad or entree you”;re making, think about when it can fit into your plan. Keep the correct number of pre-measured portions for yourself and your family when guests leave. Then have containers ready for others to take the rest of the leftovers home with them. You”;ll have pre-measured treats that fit your lifestyle, and less temptation to pull you off your plan in the days following the fete.

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The post 10 Tips for a Healthy Home Cookout appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com

10 Fruits That Taste Awesome Grilled

10 Fruits That Taste Awesome Grilled

Open-flame cooking brings out the best flavor in just about every food. When you grill vegetables and fruits, their natural sugars caramelize and they taste even sweeter. Many favorite fruits are fast and easy to grill, and they make a deliciously different ingredient, side dish, snack, or treat. Because they are nutrient-rich, filled with fiber, and low to medium on the Glycemic Index, fresh fruits are SmartCarbs you can enjoy without impeding progress toward your weight loss goal. Just be sure to consult your Grocery Guide for proper portion sizes.

Ready to try grilled fruit? Here are a few tips for success with all fruits and hints for enjoying 10 great tastes of the season:

Basket, Pan or Skewers

The grates that came with your grill are shaped for cooking meat, but less substantial ingredients, such as pieces of fruit, are prone to falling through as they heat up. When grilling fruit, put it in a wire basket or on a tray with small holes that allow the flames to touch the food but keep it from falling through. Another fun option: soak wooden skewers (like those used for kebabs) in water for 30 minutes, poke them through the fruit, then put them on the grill.

Go Large

Fruit cooks quickly on the grill and within minutes small pieces can begin to disintegrate. Cut it it in large chunks, even if you need to slice it down to bite-size before serving.

Light Oil

Spraying cut fruit with zero-calorie cooking spray, or tossing cut fruit with a little olive or coconut oil or butter before grilling helps bring out its flavor and prevents the pieces from sticking to the basket, pan or grates. Avoid drenching the food in fats, which can lead to a grease fire. Just coat it lightly.

Low, Indirect Heat

Cooking over high flames can leave you with burned fruit in a matter of minutes. Better to grill fruit on the outer edges of the grates or over coals that have turned gray.

Let Cool

Fruits contain a lot of water, which becomes extremely hot when grilling. Allow it to cool after removing it from the heat before eating so that scorchingly hot water doesn’t squirt out and burn your mouth when you bite into it.

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So now that you know the HOW of grilling fruit, here’s the WHAT:

1. Peaches

Slice in half and remove the pits. For more flavor, brush with honey and sprinkle them with cinnamon. Put peach halves on the grill with the cut side down and cook for eight to 10 minutes, until fruit is hot throughout.

2. Plums

Like peaches, cut in half and remove the pits before cooking. Leave on the grill for four to six minutes, until the flesh is tender but not crumbling.

3. Apples

Peel, cut into quarters and remove the core and seeds. Sprinkle with lemon juice to keep the cut pieces from turning brown. Grill for 20 minutes, turning every five minutes.

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4. Pears

Slice into wedges, cutting away the stem, core, and visible seeds. Brush with coconut oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Cook for 15 minutes, turning every three to five minutes.

5. Figs

Snip the tiny stem end off each fig and cut in half lengthwise. Coat in a light mixture of lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon. Grill for two to three minutes on each side.

6. Watermelon

Go with seedless varieties, if you can. Cut melon into thick wedges or one-inch-wide rounds. Grill for two to three minutes per side.

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7. Cantaloupe

Slice into one inch wide wedges with the rind still attached and discard seeds. Or cut into cubes (with rind removed) and slide them on to skewers. Cook for four to six minutes, turning frequently.

8. Pineapple

Cut pineapple into wedges with the skin still on the edges or remove the skin and core and slice into rings. Grill for about three minutes per side.

9. Bananas

Peel banana and slice in half lengthwise. Grill for two minutes per side.

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10. Lemons

Cut the fruit in half, pick out any visible seeds with a fork or your fingertip, and brush the cut sides lightly with oil. Set them cut-side down on the grill and cook for about three minutes, until the fruit is lightly charred. Squeeze onto grilled chicken, fish or vegetables.

The post 10 Fruits That Taste Awesome Grilled appeared first on The Leaf.

Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com