3 Quick Tips for a Healthy Cookout


Summer wouldn’t be the same for many Americans without the traditional backyard barbecue. By planning ahead and making healthy choices, you can enjoy summer barbecues and reduce your risk for developing chronic diseases.

Add flavor and variety to your next barbecue with these 3 quick tips:


Know how many people are coming to your cookout ahead of time. Buy five to six ounces of meat per person and prepare about one cup of each side dish per guest.

By planning the amount of food you will need, you can prevent over-buying and over-eating. Instead of starchy mashed potatoes, high-fat macaroni and cheese and buttery corn on the cob, serve coleslaw, baked beans or a side salad. These choices are higher in fiber and lower in fat.


When picking out your grilling meats, choose the leanest cuts of steak such as flank, top loin, sirloin, porterhouse or tenderloin. For hamburgers, choose the 90/10 ground beef. When grilling poultry, choose skinless, white meat chicken or ground turkey breast. Try filets of heart healthy fish, such as salmon, tilapia, or trout.


The possibilities for fresh and delicious vegetable sides are countless. Executive Chef John Martin at the Heart Hospital Baylor Plano recommends this tasty marinade:

  • ½ cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon Creole Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped fresh rosemary

To prepare, combine all ingredients in a container with a sealable lid and shake well. Marinate vegetables anywhere from half an hour (asparagus, eggplant) or several hours (zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, onions). Pat vegetables dry before grilling.

Place larger veggies (like asparagus and eggplant) directly on the grill, cooking for a few minutes on each side. For the smaller pieces of onion, mushroom or zucchini, invest in a grill basket to keep them from falling through the grates. Grilling veggies is an easy and flavorful way to create a healthy cookout that your family will love.

About the author

Emily Hein
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Emily works as a Clinical and Outpatient Dietitian at The Heart Hospital at Baylor Plano. She has a strong passion for cooking, hot yoga, and believes that moderation and enjoyable physical activity are the keys to a healthy life.

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3 Quick Tips for a Healthy Cookout