Celebrate summer this year by breaking away from traditional BBQ and creating a menu that is not only tasty but healthy, too. An easy way to improve the nutrition of your menu is to focus on fiber. Fiber helps you to stay full and satisfied and is found in a variety of healthy foods like fruits, vegetable, legumes, grains, and fiber enriched foods. Because it is present in so many foods, it presents a bounty of options to indulge your creativity in the kitchen and on the grill.
Swapping out your starches for whole grain options is an easy win for boosting health and fiber. Subbing out your hamburger and hot dog buns will add taste and texture. Pasta salads are also the perfect opportunity to add fiber as well by using whole grain pastas. Click here for different ideas how to make a healthier pasta salad. If you do not care for whole grain breads and pastas, look for fiber-enriched options. These will give you the taste of white bread and pasta, but the added fiber of whole grain. You can also try thinking outside of the box and experiment with different grains like quinoa, couscous or barley. This quinoa salad includes tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado for a light grain salad.
Fruit, veggies and legumes are great sources of fiber that are perfect for a hot summer day. They are light, filling and packed with nutrition. Set out a fruit and veggie tray to keep it simple or you can bulk up traditional recipes with extra fruits and veggies. Try a delightful strawberry spinach salad or tomato avocado salad for starters. Beans are not only a super source of fiber, but are also packed with protein. They will help you create a dish that will stick with you for hours without packing in the calories. Try this cowboy caviar; a popular side dish made with black beans, corn, and an assortment of veggies for a punch of fiber and flavor. Preparing these side dishes in advance and serving them cold can also be an added way to stay cool on a hot day.
Do not forget dessert when it comes to adding in fiber. There are plenty of ways you can make a dessert that not only tastes good but is healthy. Try mixing your favorite high fiber yogurt with blueberries and strawberries and freezing in freezer pop molds for a refreshing treat. Or try a delicious peach crumble with whole wheat flour and oats for an excellent cap to your meal.
Finally, most people will take a road trip, or at least hit the beach or a local park this summer. Take some easy on-the-go snacks to stay healthy. Try mixing nuts, seeds and dried fruit for a delicious trail mix that will travel well and provide lots of fiber. You could roast some spicy chickpeas and bag them up for the day. Another option that you can carry with you would be low sugar, high fiber granola bars that you can throw in your pack. The possibilities are endless for grab-and-go snacks.
Carolyn Reynaud, MS, RD is a licensed registered dietitian and a paid contributor to SteviaBenefits.org. She received her BS in nutrition from Michigan State University and her Masters and Certificate in Public Health from Georgia State University. She has experience working in several avenues of health care including corporate wellness, clinical disease management, research, and health promotion. She has been working as a health coach specialist for close to 6 years, where she counsels patients on preventative healthcare and helps them meet their health goals. Follow her on Twitter @ReynaudCari.