The Barbecue Chef: Cook healthy, stay healthy

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June 23, 2010

By Bob Difley (with a push from Lynn Difley)

If you are like me, you often turn a deaf ear or blind eye to your usual healthy eating habits when the summer camping and barbecue season kicks in? Staying healthy on the road is as important as keeping your rig in tune. There is nothing that can spoil a camping trip faster than coming down with a pesky bug or experiencing a reduced energy level due to overeating or poor nutrition. And there is no reason why, as the barbecue chef (my official summer title), you can’t have it both ways–cooking both healthy and tasty food.

Are you a burger and hot dog traditionalist? You can make alterations to enjoy healthier, lower calorie choices. Start by substituting a 100% whole wheat bun for the soggy white one. It will add fiber and reduce sugar. And what about making it an open face, or single slice treat? Try using a big romaine lettuce leaf for the top layer.

You can also reduce the fat; instead of a pork hot dog (300 calories and 25 g fat) choose a turkey burger (160 cals and 9 g fat) or even better, a veggie burger (that’s for Lynn – 110 calories 4 grams of fat). Instead of adding cheese, mayo, or bacon to your burger, go for mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato to add lots of vitamins and zero fat.

Are you making a big potato salad? Calorie red alert! More nutritious if you leave the skins on the potatoes–little red ones or Yukon gold have a delicious flavor on their own–no need to slather on mayo. Substitute nonfat Greek yogurt (Lynn) or reduced fat, low calorie Caesar (me) or ranch dressing for mayo. And add onions, celery, pickles, etc to add some crunch and zip.

What about making a veggie platter as an alternative to the oily, calorie laden macaroni and potato salads? Grill chunks of red pepper, yellow squash, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, and any other fresh local veggie. Sprinkle with some balsamic vinegar (or use the low cal Caesar salad dressing) for a healthy, low cal version.

And don’t forget to add in some physical activity after you eat: hiking, walking, kayaking, climbing a tree–it doesn’t matter what–just get up and get moving and you have the perfect prescription for a happy healthy summer.

Check out my ebook about how to save money on the road (111Ways to Get the Biggest Bang for your RV Lifestyle Buck) or my eBook on tips for camping out in the boonies–or anywhere where there are no hookups–in BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America’s Public Lands.

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  2. Alexandre Tarcitano

    Excellent advice Mr. Difley . Healthy food matches with healthy way of life like camping.

  3. Alpenliter

    Bob, I think there is a bad link on your “111 ways” book.

  4. Pat

    Tres bien! Very good advice and ideas…Thanks Bob!

  5. Al Gonzalez

    need fridge for 88 HR its A Dommnic

  6. Although a 100% whole wheat bun is a good substitute for “the soggy white one,” the even better selection is to use that big romaine lettuce leaf as the wrap in place of the bun. Even though you’re giving up some fiber, you’re really reducing carbohydrates for more protein which is the better trade off.

  7. Jim G

    Excellent and very timely advice for sure. I especially enjoy the photo as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, or is it a 1000 calories.