Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day and Best BBQ picks

Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and the summer is within reach, meaning BBQs will be widespread for the rest of the summer. I often hear how difficult and frustrating it is for individuals to stay “on track” at picnics or BBQs. Planning ahead can leave you feeling confident and allow you to enjoy the day.  In fact, on the radio today the host of the morning show rattled off a long list of common ingredients in hot dogs…which was not a pleasant one to hear. Burgers and hot dogs are classic and will grace many upcoming BBQs. So which is better? The battle is on.


The burger…

Ground beef varies in its content of fat. A quarter pound patty made with 90% lean beef is about 200 calories, and 11 g of fat, but the same size patty made with 75% ground beef will set you back about 330 calories and 28 g of fat. At a BBQ it is likely that a higher fat meat will be used (especially if using pre-formed frozen pattys) so keep that in mind. A traditional burger bun adds an additional 130 calories. Certainly skipping out on the cheese will slash ~100 calories in the sandwich.


If you can go with grass-fed beef (vs. grain-fed or corn-fed), that is the way to go. It is leaner meaning it is lower in fat and calories and has higher in Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins and minerals. 


What about turkey burgers?

Turkey burgers can be a better choice than burgers, but not always. There are two varieties of meat on a turkey… the low-fat white meat (the breast) and the higher-fat, higher calorie dark meat (legs, thighs etc). So depending on what type of ground turkey is used, sometimes a lean burger is a lower-fat/calorie choice.

4 oz of Shadybrook farms ground turkey: 240 calories, 17 g fat  

4 oz of Shadybrook 97/3 ground turkey: 160 calories, 8 g fat.

The take-away? Be sure to select “lean” turkey burger otherwise you might as well go with the red-meat burger.


Tips for a healthier burger:

Be aware of high calorie/fat toppings such as cheese, mayo, sauces, fried onions, bacon.

Add tomato, lettuce, onions, etc for extra nutrition

Try it on a whole wheat bun or sans the bun!


Hot Dogs

Hot dogs are a highly processed meat (full of sodium and preservatives) made with pork, beef, turkey, or a combination of these ingredients. If you choose hot dogs looks for those labeled “nitrate-free”. Nutritionally speaking, they run 160-180 calories per frank, with 16-20 g of fat. Again, buns add an additional 120 calories. Many use nitrates, an additive to help preserve them. These nitrates are converted to nitrosamines in our body which act as a carcinogen (cancer-promoting substance).


Tips for a healthier hot dog:

Choose low calorie toppings (mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut)

Avoid the chili, cheese, and sweet relish


Portion sizes matter… Typically people are satisfied with one burger, but is one hot dog going to hit the spot or do you go back for seconds? If you go back for seconds you have to double your calories and it can really add up!


The Winner: Lean burger on a whole wheat bun.


Thinking outside of the bun…

Grilled chicken, fish, or lean steaks are great options at a BBQ. You save on calories and carbohydrates by omitting the bun. This way you can say “yes” to the potato or macaroni salad that you wanted to try! Veggie burgers are another great option as they are a lean and lower calorie option!

1 comment:

  1. Burgers and hot dogs are classic and will grace many upcoming BBQs. So which is better? The battle is on.