Food & Nutrition

9 Foods You Should Never, Ever Eat at a Barbecue

Heading to a cookout? For the sake of saving yourself tummy troubles (and the extra calories), avoid these not-good-for-you eats.

A monster burger

burgerPatrick Ryan So/Shutterstock

Hamburgers aren’t the enemy, but ones the size of your head, are. If hosting your own cookout, choose a leaner ground beef mix and carefully measure out patty sizes (try OXO’s burger press, which helps you easily create perfectly portioned disks) to ensure you’re not overdoing it. “I like a 75 percent lean 25 percent fat beef mix, which delivers a lot of flavor and stays moist. If you go any lower, it can sometimes get chalky,” says Jens Dahlmann, corporate executive chef for LongHorn Steakhouse and vice president of culinary development. You can also play around with other leaner proteins, like lamb, bison, or turkey (try Jennie-O’s various ground turkey or pre-formed patty options); just be careful not to over-grill them, since the leaner the cut, the easier it is to overcook and be left with tough meat. “Beef is the king of burgers, but lamb is a better-for-you red meat and has a lot of flavor to it. Pair it with some tomato, red onion, cucumber, and a little bit of feta and it’s very simple but satisfying,” he says.

Creamy salads

saladsMark Skalny/Shutterstock

Traditional potato and macaroni salads are often made with gobs of mayonnaise, which may taste delicious but is a definite fat bomb. Plus, they can spoil easily under the hot sun, making them a hot bed for food poisoning. If you’re hosting and salads are your weakness, try making a lighter version using mostly low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with just a little mayo and lots of fresh herbs for added flavor; load up the salad with fresh diced veggies like cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, spinach, or anything else you like. “Adding in more veggies means you’ll get some with each bite,” says Marisa Moore, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist. You can also try using sweet potatoes instead of white for more fiber, potassium, and vitamin A, or opt for whole wheat or high protein noodles (try Banza, a chickpea pasta, or POW! pasta by Ancient Harvest, noodles made with beans and ancient grains) for some nutrients with your carbs. Don’t miss the foods likely to give you food poisoning this summer.

Solo sausage links


Sausage lovers know that it’s not hard to gobble up more than one delicious link. Unfortunately, that also means you’re likely ingesting way more fat and salt than is healthy. Instead, slice up sausage and grill it on a skewer with a few veggie chunks (onions, peppers, or zucchini grill up beautifully) sandwiched between the meat. “Skewers are a built-in way to add extra veggies while pumping up the fiber,” says Moore. You can also choose better-for-you sausages, like turkey or chicken (try Applegate Farms’ chicken and turkey sausages), which tend to be lower in fat.

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