How to Stay on Track at Summer Cookouts

It might feel impossible to stay on track with your health goals when you’re hanging out at cookouts all summer long, but I assure you it can be done. Staying aligned with your health goals and still having fun can be done, it just takes some thoughtful preparation. Keep in mind not all these tips may work for you. This is totally normal. Use the ideas that match your specific situation and eating style. Remember, healthy eating is not "one way fits all." The strategies that feel right for you are the best ones!

I love firing up the grill and entertaining in the summer — it’s a great excuse to get outside, be around friends, and whip up some fresh, seasonal dishes. I’ve also been to plenty of cookouts and parties where the only options are hotdogs, potato salad, chips, and soda. I’m guessing you have, too?

It might feel impossible to stay on track with your health goals when you’re hanging out at cookouts all summer long, but I assure you it’s not. Staying aligned with your health goals and still having fun can be done, it just takes some thoughtful preparation.

Peruse, Then Choose

An oldie, but a goodie, my friends! Before you load up your plate, peruse all your options and take note of what’s there. Once you’ve done that, you can decide which foods you’ll actually enjoy before just mindlessly piling stuff on your plate. In other words, if you’re not in love with potato salad, don’t load it on your plate just because it’s there. It’s easy to eat mindlessly when you’re at a party (especially when tempting foods are the main focus) but taking a few minutes to check in and think about whether you really want something before you put it onto your plate is a great mindfulness exercise to keep you on track.

Bring a Healthy Dish

Bringing a healthy dish to the party is my personal secret weapon for cookout invites. Being a mostly plant-based eater, I tend to have less choices at cookouts, so sometimes my own dish is all I eat. But that’s not the case for everyone. At the very least, your own healthy dish can serve as a supplement to normal cookout fare to help balance your plate.

Don’t Arrive Starving

If you’re planning on skipping breakfast and snacks to “save calories” for a summer soiree: don’t. When you show up to a party ravenous it’s nearly impossible to make sensible eating decisions. You’ll be too hungry to think through what you’re piling onto your plate (or into your mouth if it’s finger food) and you’re likely going to overeat. My advice for day-of-event noshing is to eat normally, but with an extra focus on getting in lots of fresh veggies and fiber. This will allow you to arrive already satisfied and help you to choose foods more in line with your goals, rather than feeling the need to “make up” for all the food you didn’t eat earlier in the day.

Stick to Your Plate

Eating without a plate is a surefire way to take in lots of unintentional calories. It’s way too easy to pick up a handful of this or that, unknowingly overdoing it before you even made your “real” plate. Rather than loitering around the food table, it’s a much better idea to place a handful of chips on your plate and then walk away.

Stop When You’re Satisfied

This is another time when taking a second to slow down and think about your food choices makes a big difference. Rather than eating until you’re stuffed, eat until you’re satisfied. It can take a lot of practice to recognize when you’re satisfied, but here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

Am I still hungry?
Am I finishing my plate just because it’s in front of me?
Am I even enjoying this food?
Am I thirsty?
Have I saved room for dessert? 🙂

If you’re satisfied, but just feel awkward without a plate or cup in your hands, sip on kombucha or seltzer water and focus on the company you’re in, rather than filling up another plate.

Pre-Commit

This is a great one if you already know the menu. Deciding what you’ll eat before you even arrive takes all the thinking out of the equation and allows you to just relax and have fun. This strategy works great when eating out at restaurants, too!

Keep in mind not all of these tips may work for you. This is totally normal. Use the ideas that match your specific situation and eating style. Remember, healthy eating is not “one way fits all.” The strategies that feel right for you are the best ones!

The Best Spiralized Veggie Noodle Recipes

Here are some of my favorite spiralized veggie recipes, from hearty main dishes to light and refreshing salads!

I love my spiralizer. It’s one of my favorite kitchen tools, and it definitely gets used in my kitchen at least once a week. I love pasta just as much as the next girl, but I’m always looking for fun ways to enjoy my veggies and get more in. Enjoying a big bowl of veggies that feels like a big bowl of pasta? Sign me up! Here are some of my favorite spiralized veggie recipes, from hearty main dishes to light and refreshing salads:

My Asparagus & Zucchini Noodles with Spinach Pesto

This recipe couldn’t get much healthier – it’s veggie on veggie on veggie! From the zoodle base and the asparagus and tomato add-ins to the spinach-packed pesto, you’ve got the most satisfying bowl of veggies ever. The spinach pesto adds tons of savory flavor and creaminess, while the zoodles keep it light. It’s the perfect recipe to use up lots of farmer’s market produce.

My Creamy Sweet Potato Mushroom Pasta

Here’s another awesome veggie on veggie on veggie meal! Sweet potatoes make for excellent hearty spiralized noodles. Then these veggie noodles are mixed with mushrooms and onions for more veggie power and swirled in a creamy and rich sauce made of, you guessed it, more veggies! This is a great recipe for when you’re craving comfort food but still want a healthy meal.

My Lemony Zucchini Noodles with Spinach, Cherries & Pine Nuts

This cold zoodle dish is a delicious low carb and veggie-packed take on pasta salad. I love the combination of salty feta, sweet + tart cherries, and nutty pine nuts. This recipe is perfect for taking to a summer BBQ for a lightened up side dish.

Rainbow Veggie Pad Thai Noodles

This Pad Thai from Half-Baked Harvest mixes regular noodles with beet and sweet potato noodles for a satisfying, colorful, and veggie-filled version of traditional Pad Thai. The best part? This recipe is quick and easy enough to make for a weeknight dinner!

 

Mediterranean Zucchini Noodles

These noodles from Alex at Delish Knowledge are filled with salty, savory goodness from olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes, and feta cheese. The fresh veggies and basil keep everything light and summery, too. Yum!

Butternut Squash Noodles Carbonara with Mushroom Bacon

That’s right, these noodles from Kara Lydon are totally vegetarian, but keep all the smoky, savory, filling goodness of traditional carbonara pasta! The butternut squash noodles lighten up the dish, so you can still feel good about the cheesy sauce, and the mushroom bacon is a genius meaty addition. This is another great one for when you’re craving comfort food but want some veggies, too!

Zucchini Pasta with Lentil Bolognese

This zucchini pasta from Minimalist Baker is a hearty, vegetarian take on traditional pasta with meat sauce. I love the meaty flavor of the lentil bolognese with the light and fresh zucchini noodles. It’s just about the best veggie stand-in you’ll find for spaghetti and meat sauce. 😉

Fig & Zucchini Pasta with Hemp Seed Crumble

This light, summery zucchini pasta salad from Nutrition Stripped features a savory hemp seed crumble as a vegan alternative to Parmesan cheese. Anything with fresh figs and avocado is a win in my book!

Wild Blueberry Chia Fresca

You can make agua frescas with just about any fruit (or fruit combination) you like, so of course I turned to my beloved Wild Blueberries. The bright, juicy, and sweet berry makes the perfect base for an agua fresca - and majorly boosts the antioxidant power of your summer drink.

Summer is on its way, and I couldn’t be more excited for all the delicious food that comes along with it. I’m a sucker for grilled corn on the cob, juicy watermelon, and a veggie burger on the grill, but what really gets me excited about summertime? Chia fresca.

I made this recipe in collaboration with my friends over at Wild Blueberries.  I call this drink a chia fresca, but the traditional name is agua fresca, which literally translates to “fresh water.”  Agua frescas are drinks made by blending water, fresh fruit, and a little bit of lime juice and sweetener. I love them because they’re not strained (meaning all the fiber goodness from the fruit stays in there) and they’re not too sweet! As the name suggests, they’re more fruit-infused water than all-out fruit juice.

The chia seed added to the mix amps up the nutrition a notch with a hit of fiber and healthy omega 3 fats. This chia fresca doubles as a tasty snack and a refreshing treat! My blended Chia Fresca with Pineapple and Turmeric is a mainstay on summer afternoons.

You can make agua frescas with just about any fruit (or fruit combination) you like, so of course I turned to my beloved Wild Blueberries. The bright, juicy, and sweet berry makes the perfect base for an agua fresca - and majorly boosts the antioxidant power of your summer drink.

You can make chia fresca with just about any fruit (or fruit combination) you like, so of course I turned to my beloved Wild Blueberries. The bright, juicy naturally sweet wild blueberries make the perfect base for chia fresca and majorly boosts the antioxidant power of this summer drink. They also turn plain water into this amazing blue color!

I love blending Wild Blueberries into smoothies, too, but sometimes I’m just in the mood for a lighter and more refreshing drink, rather than a filling snack or meal. That’s when these chia frescas are absolutely perfect. I won’t say they’re terrible spiked with a little rum, either, but you can make that call on your own. 😉

Wild Blueberry Chia Fresca

Wild Blueberry Chia Fresca

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup frozen Wild Blueberries
  • 12 oz fresh cold filtered water
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp honey or few drops liquid stevia

Instructions

  1. Stir chia into water and let sit for 10-20 minutes. Add lime juice and wild blueberries. Sweeten to taste, stir and serve over ice, if desired.
http://foodconfidence.com/2017/05/25/wild-blueberry-chia-fresca/