Let's start with the classic cookout icon; the burger. Eating one is hard to resist, but since you're probably going to slap a slice of cheese on it and have it on a bun, you should at least try for leaner cuts to keep your POINTS® values under control. "If you're looking for a good meaty chew with many fewer calories than the real thing," says Seres, "a portobello mushroom brushed with a little Italian dressing is fantastic."
Pick your patty:
Patty type Size POINTS® values
Regular ground beef 3 oz 6 POINTS
Lean ground beef 3 oz 4 POINTS
Regular ground turkey or chicken 3 oz 5 POINTS
Lean ground turkey or chicken 3 oz 3 POINTS
Soy burger 3 oz 2 POINTS
Portobello mushroom 3 oz 0 POINTS
Lean Bison burger 3 oz 3 POINTS
The key to grilling fowl is to keep it simple. You probably already know that skinless is a better option. With skin, a piece of chicken gains roughly 1 POINTS value, depending on its size. Sauce it up with a dollop of honey mustard, if you like; it won't cost you.
Choose your chicken:
Chicken Size POINTS® values
Breast, boneless with skin
Breast, boneless with skin
and barbecue sauce 3 oz 4 POINTS
Breast, boneless and skinless 3 oz 3 POINTS
Drumstick, boneless and skinless 3 oz 4 POINTS
Drumstick, with skin and bone 3 oz 5 POINTS
Thigh, with skin and bone 3 oz 5 POINTS
Once you've stoked your coals to perfection, odds are you're ready for some red meat. Instead of a heavy slab, opt for the recommended serving size of 3 ounces. "Your grocer or butcher should be able to help you to figure out which cuts are lower in fat and give you a primer on how to shop for leaner meats," says Seres. Go with a healthier cut and make it more savory by the bite. Brushing a steak with sauces and marinades adds loads of taste and little to no POINTS values.
Make it meaty
Steak Size POINTS® values
Filet mignon 3 oz 7 POINTS
Trimmed filet mignon 3 oz 4 POINTS
Porterhouse 3 oz 7 POINTS
Trimmed Porterhouse 3 oz 6 POINTS
Sirloin 3 oz 5 POINTS
Trimmed sirloin 3 oz 4 POINTS
Lean flank steak 3 oz 4 POINTS
T-bone 3 oz 7 POINTS
Trimmed T-bone 3 oz 5 POINTS
If you're interested in giving seafood a spin, check out our marine-life breakdown.
Fish Size POINTS® values
Shark steak 4 oz 4 POINTS
Snapper filet 4 oz 5 POINTS
Salmon steak 4 oz 3 POINTS
Swordfish steak 4 oz 4 POINTS
Tilapia 4 oz 3 POINTS
Tuna steak 4 oz 3 POINTS
Shrimp 4 oz 3 POINTS
Scallop 4 oz 3 POINTS
Keep yourself honest. Presumably, the cookout is going to be your big meal for the day. Here's a realistic scenario to help you understand how your POINTS values can add up to a reasonable total. Have a lean ground beef burger on a whole-wheat bun with a slice of fat-free American and it's only 7 POINTS values. Add a chicken drumstick garnished with one of our sauce selections, and there's another 5. If there's a round-two, switch things up with a seasoned snapper filet, and pile on some juicy grilled veggies. That makes for a a summer holiday grill-fest that rings in at an admittedly high, but still respectable 17 POINTS values. Planning on being hungry for more? Make that decision beforehand and set aside the extra room in your daily POINTS Target and weekly POINTS allowances.
Sit and savorDon't let yourself get distracted. Sure, all your friends are around and there are a lot of conversations and activities going on, but the more you focus on your plate, the less likely it is that you'll overeat. "It's easy to lose track of how much you're eating at a cookout if you're focusing a lot on the socializing rather than the food," Seres says. "Instead of walking around with a full plate talking to people, find a nice quiet place to sit down so you can really concentrate on the taste of the food."
Don't beat yourself upWe all know that cooking out, especially for a holiday, means you're not likely to plot all your POINTS values and calculate everything correctly. You might even go over your daily POINTS Target. But don't get down on yourself. Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint.