5 Tips for a Healthy Summer BBQ

Can you believe it is almost July?!? I sure can’t.

I hope your grill is hot and your tummy is grumbling for some barbecue because the 4th of July is right around the corner.

In lieu of this festive holiday typically filled with hotdogs and s’mores, I thought I would share some of my favorite tips and tricks for a healthy 4th of July (or any summer night) BBQ.

  1. Load up on veggies – If your cooking, grill a bunch of kebabs full colorful peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli. If you aren’t the one cooking, bring a big veggie tray with hummus or guac and fill your plate! Vegetables provide so many vital vitamins and minerals, plus they help fill you up without breaking the calorie bank.
  2. Cut the carbs in half – Yep, I’m talking about the (whole grain!) bun. This one is tricky if you are having a hot dog, but if you go for a hamburger, go open face so you only get half the bun’s carbs and calories. Or, if you are feeling super healthy, try two big pieces of lettuce for your bun.
  3. Water, water, water! – I know pop, lemonade, and iced tea are BBQ classics, but you can easily save 200+ calories by only drinking water. And an extra bonus – water will help keep you hydrated with all the extra salt you might be getting from that hot dog and side of potato chips.
  4. Choose fruit for dessert – ‘Tis the season of nice, juicy watermelons and delicious fruit salads. Take advantage of natures candy and munch on some nutrient filled grapes and berries instead of reaching for the bag of marshmallows.
  5. Get moving – Go for a walk and enjoy the weather after dinner, or play with the kids in the back yard. Planning an activity for after the meal can help prevent overeating (since nobody wants to run around on an overly full stomach). Exercise also helps your food digest better – not to mention you burn a few extra calories in the process.

Happy Grilling, Happy Summer, and Happy (early) 4th!

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Chocolate Covered Banana Pops

I feel like I have posted a lot of nutrition tips recently, so I thought I would switch it up and talk about one of my new favorite healthier treats.

My idea of fun last Saturday night was spending my sweet old time walking up and down the aisles of the grocery store. It is amazing what you can find when you aren’t in a hurry to grab all your usual items! My exciting find this week was Diana’s Banana Dark Chocolate Banana Babies.

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These delicious treats are simply a frozen half of a banana covered in dark chocolate on a stick. Even better…each one is only 130 calories and they only have three ingredients: banana, chocolate, and peanut oil (no crazy chemicals or preservatives)!

They also make little banana slices covered in chocolate, but I like the ones on the stick because you don’t really have to worry about the chocolate melting on your fingers. I have also seen tons of recipes on Pinterest to make your own chocolate covered banana treats. I have tried to make the slices before and it was a bit of a mess, but the pops would be a fun, healthier treat to make with kids. They can even decorate them with toppings like nuts and sprinkles!

Enjoy!

P.S. Remember, even though they are healthier and one of my new favorites doesn’t mean they should become your new breakfast or entitle you to the whole box. They still have a saturated fat and sugar, just a lot less than some of your traditional desserts.

My First Blogiversary!

IMG_4328It’s hard for me to believe that one year ago today I made my first blog post on The Lemon Wedge. Over the past 12 months I have written 40 blog posts, received 221 “likes” on my posts, and gained 88 followers. To some that might not seem like much but I never thought anyone more than my family would be reading my posts. In high school I swore I would never write anything that wasn’t for school assignment. It is amazing how writing about something I love has turned my most hated school subject into a hobby. Over the next year I hope to write more, cook more, and learn more about food and nutrition that I can share with you.

Enough with my rambling and onto the celebration. Yes, my blogs 1st birthday calls for a celebration! In true Lemon Wedge fashion, I decided to conjure up a lemony and healthy dessert for the occasion. The result: Lemon Frozen Yogurt. It came out a little more frozen and icy rather than smooth and yogurty, but it still tasted great and made for a good celebration treat! I scooped it into a hollowed out lemon for this photo op, but if I make it again, I would definitely make it into popsicles to enjoy on a hot and humid summer day. The recipe is below so you can freeze it in whichever form suits your fancy.

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Thanks for reading my blogs over the past year and I hope you look forward to another year full of posts. What topics would you like me to write about over the next year?

National Nutrition Month + Healthy Ice Cream

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Happy National Nutrition Month! While I probably should have written this post for the beginning of the month, I figured it is still March so it is still acceptable. Each year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics runs a campaign for the month of March that focuses on the importance of “making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits”. This years theme: Savor the Flavor of Eating Right. The message: healthy eating can and should taste good. I am definitely a fan of this year’s theme because there is no way to have sustainable healthy eating habits if you do not enjoy what you are eating. With this in mind, I though I would share this healthy and delicious ice cream recipe that won’t break the calorie bank. Plus, you can make it will all natural ingredients. Hope you enjoy!

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Study abroad update: Dublin was absolutely amazing and is definitely near the top of my list of favorite cities. This week I’m headed to Prague, Czech Republic and Nuremberg, Germany 🙂

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Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Vacation Eating and The Hunger Scale

Vacation usually means lots and lots of delicious treats! I love trying new foods so going to new restaurants and countries with new types of food is so much fun for me. Vacation also usually means a week or two of indulging and then its back to a relatively well balanced diet. My dilemma… I have quickly realized that this “vacation” is not just a week or two. I am abroad for over four months so having loads of sugary treats everyday is not the wisest decision. The past week has made me discover that just because I am in a foreign country does not means I can eat whatever I want, all of the time.

Over the weekend, some friends and I took a quick trip to Brussels, Belgium. I don’t know what you think about when I say Belgium, but the first things that came to my mind were chocolate, waffles, and French fries. With only 48 hours, we all took advantage of these amazing treats… so much so that we all felt pretty sick for the next few days. While a few days of salad, vegetable overload, and some trips to the gym got me feeling right back to normal, I have realized that this pattern of overeating and then “cleansing” does not make me feel my best.

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Belgian Waffles!

The biggest thing that I have forgotten about in all of this is the hunger scale. This guide here is a good way to know when and how much you (and I) should eat. If “1” is starving and “10” is miserably full, you should always be between 3 and 6/7. I know that recently I have been hitting 9/10 (and possible an 11 in Belgium!) way too often and it doesn’t feel good.

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It is probably going to be difficult to say no to the homemade cakes my host mom makes, along with the flakey chocolate-filled pastries on every street corner, but if I want to survive these four months without endless stomach aches, I have to remind myself that I am going to be here for quite some time, and I don’t have to stuff my face with everything that is in front of me. (But, of course, a treat or a bite here and there will never hurt!) I also have to remind myself how much better I will feel if I don’t go to bed feeling like a roly-poly every night.

Fruit + Turkey = Fruiturkey

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day was filled with family, friends, laughter, and lots of delicious food, just like mine was. As my contribution to our Thanksgiving meal I was in charge of fruit for dessert, but in true Dana fashion, I had to try something new. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a cute turkey made out of fruit on Pinterest, so I decided to give it a shot. Here is a picture of how my fruiturkey came out.

Fruiturkey

Since I didn’t have much else to do on this lazy Thanksgiving day, this little guy kept me pretty busy. Trying to feed the tiny kiwi slices onto skewers was not an easy feat nor was poking the skewers into the hard melon, but after many hours of washing, peeling, slicing, and building, my fruiturkey was finally complete. All the work definitely paid off, and I was surprisingly pleased with how well he came out.

He made for a great centerpiece and it was much more fun to eat fruit, plucking out one fruit feather at a time. While a fruiturkey might be a little difficult and time consuming, I definitely recommend mixing things up at holiday meals (or everyday meals). Serving foods like fruits and vegetables in a fun, new way can make people (especially kids) more excited to eat from these neglected food groups.

In the end, just like all the other turkeys today, my fruiturkey ended up in many happy and stuffed tummies. Happy Thanksgiving!

Want to make a fruiturkey at home? Here is what I used:
Kebabs: Blackberries, blueberries, red grapes, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi, green grapes, and pineapple
Body: Cantaloupe
Head: Pear with blueberry eyes and a strawberry slice for the snood (the red part on a turkey’s neck). I used tooth picks to hold the pear onto the cantaloupe.
Feet: Cantelope Slices