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For Your Cook Out, Keep a Look Out for Healthy Choices

By F

May 15, 2014

This Memorial Day, Remind Family and Friends that ‘Healthy Tastes Great’!

For many, Memorial Day Weekend means relaxation, playing poolside, and barbecuing with family and friends. When planning this year’s cook out, keep a look out for healthy food alternatives.

Got the grill ready? Mix up the traditional summer menu by trading hotdogs and hamburgers for a leaner meat like chicken. Fish is another good option which is high in protein, low in saturated fat, a great source of vitamins and minerals, and often laden with omega-3 fatty acids that reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Chef Justin Timineri shares guilt-free seafood recipes, such as this grilled grouper tangerine, that are sure to delight your guests and keep their healthy eating on track.

Is potato salad on your shopping list? Try a fresher choice like an orange and olive salad, or other veggie-heavy alternatives. Opting for vinaigrettes instead of cream-based dressings and loading up on grilled, raw or roasted vegetables lowers the calorie count while satisfying hunger. If you consider pasta salad a must, choose whole wheat farfalle, penne or fusilli to give this cook out staple a healthy twist.

Cookouts usually have side dishes galore, but munching on decadent treats like onion rings, potato chips or calorie-rich casseroles are the shortest path to over-indulging. Swap chips and dip for celery and hummus; queso cheese dip for homemade guacamole; or macaroni and cheese for low-calorie coleslaw. Chef Justin’s fruit skewers add color to your spread while allowing guests to cool off, fill up, and keep those excess calories at bay.

Sugary beverages can add a lot of calories to a meal, so stroll straight past the soda aisle on your pre-cookout shopping trip and impress your guests with homemade Southern-style tea. Already bogged down by too much cooking? Get your kids to help with some fresh squeezed lemonade with just a dash of sugar, or slice some lemon and cucumbers to give fresh water a little zest.

No meal is complete without a little something sweet. Cupcakes, brownies and ice cream are always crowd pleasers, but Chef Justin can help you serve a tasty dessert without sabotaging your healthy spread. Whip up this Florida fruit parfait in just minutes, or try these melon muffins to end your party on a unique note.

Eating right is no easy feat when entertaining, but a little planning makes all the difference. Map out your nutritious menu, hit the market, and throw a great party that inspires guests to stick to a healthy routine. Maintaining a healthy weight is all about habit, and holiday cook outs are no reason to stray from a healthy life.

For more great recipes from Chef Justin, visit

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