Healthy Summer Food Swaps

Summer is here, and that means hot weather, swimsuits, shorts, and tank tops. It also means plenty of BBQs and time outdoors. Here are my favorite picnic and BBQ options and substitutes:

• Hamburger – The average burger, with bun and toppings, is a whopping 512 calories! Good news though: there are easy ways to cut that number in half. If you’re doing the grilling or bringing your own meat, try 90/10 lean ground beef. You’ll cut calories and fat with the easy swap. You can also try lean ground turkey for your burger if you are limiting your red meat. Either way, make your patties 4 ounces, be cautious of the sodium in your seasoning, and you’ll be around 200 calories.

• Buns – A white hamburger bun can contain over 200 calories and 28 grams of carbs. Grab a fork and try your hamburger sans bun (I actually prefer it this way). You can also use a large piece of lettuce and make a mouth-watering wrap.

• Toppings – Ketchup can be packed with unwanted sugar and sodium. Try replacing it with a fresh slice of tomato. A tablespoon of guacamole also makes a great, healthy option for a topping. Skip the cheese and you’ll save another 60-90 calories.

• Grilled Fish – Maybe a stretch for some, but grilling up some fish or a shrimp skewer can be a yummy low calorie BBQ option. A four ounce halibut fillet contains just 125 calories and is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Pair it with a homemade fresh mango salsa and you’ll have a delicious main dish under 250 calories.

• Side Dishes – One cup of traditional potato salad contains over 300 calories and is packed with cholesterol and sodium. Swap a small side salad (I’m currently in love with Bolthouse Farms yogurt-based dressings) or a low calorie broccoli salad (like the one found here) and you’ll have fiber rich sides that leave you feeling light and satiated!

• Drinks – Skip the lemonade and sweet tea. Water is your best friend, especially in the summer heat! Staying hydrated means healthier skin, increased metabolism and more energy. Bonus: drinking adequate amounts of water can help you prevent overeating, as signs of dehydration are often confused with hunger.

• Dessert – At 92 percent water and only 43 calories per cup, watermelon makes a great after meal treat! According to NatGeo, a 10-oz. wedge of watermelon contains approximately one-third of the recommended daily value of vitamins A and C and is among the best dietary sources of lycopene.

Whatever plans you have for this summer, have fun, enjoy the weather, stay active and don’t give up on your goals. My Max Muscle certified fitness nutrition coach always preaches a “bend, don’t break” philosophy. Do the best you can with what you have and keep moving forward. Some days won’t be perfect – and that’s OK. If you keep a positive attitude and never give up, you’ll reach your goals with consistency and persistence.

Celebrate your journey and make this lifestyle change permanent and gratifying! You are worth it!


By Jenny Broers, former Max Muscle MaxFormation Life Challenge Winner