Easy, Healthy Summer Cookouts & Picnics

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

Summer cookouts and picnics with family and friends can be heart-healthy – just follow these tips!

My PAMM Diet

You probably already know that I’m a big proponent of what I call the Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean, or “PAMM,” Diet. When compared with today’s American fare (and its general abundance of processed and fast foods), traditional Mediterranean and Asian diets offer less of what we don’t want (e.g. refined sugar and “bad fats”), while providing more of what we do want (essential nutrients).

The Mediterranean diet generally includes helping-after-helping of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, local fish, home-produced olive oil, fresh garlic, seeds and nuts, and the typical Asian diet is bountiful in fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, locally-harvested seaweeds, and soy products.

How to Make Your Summer Cookout or Picnic PAMM-tastic:

  • Try to fill at least 2/3 of your plate with lots and lots of vibrant, colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables, most all of which are low-glycemic, low-calorie and full of fiber to help keep insulin levels at bay. Think green salads, grilled, steamed or sautéed vegetables, fruit salads, and raw veggies to nibble on, perhaps with fresh guacamole. High-glycemic buns, potato and pasta salads, and fried chips are fillers your body just doesn’t need.
  • Go easy on the meat. Limit portions of lean proteins like wild migratory fish, buffalo, organic chicken and organic beef to the size of the palm of your hand. The best diets in the world don’t include big chunks of meat like we have in the U.S. My Mood-Boosting Chicken and Pineapple Coleslaw, Cardioprotective Salmon Caesar Salad, and Easy Beef Sauté recipes (which you can download above) are lively and tasty dishes that offer the protein you need with a balance of nutrient- and fiber-rich veggies.
  • Don’t skimp on the healthy fats! Drizzle olive oil over veggies, salads and meats, add avocado to just about anything, and nibble on nuts (preferably unsalted ones). Fats are satiating, and by including healthy ones in your meals, you’re likely to eat less in the long run. Get the skinny on fats: the good, the bad and the adulterated.
  • As for drinks, keep alcohol to one glass of wine or beer, then switch to seltzer with lemon or lime, or better yet, filtered water. Same goes for fruit juice. Forget sodas altogether, whether diet or regular.

Want to eat healthfully at home but not sure how to get started? Watch my What’s Cooking? video series. In it, my son, Step, and I demonstrate how to make quick, easy, healthy, and tasty dishes and drinks, while explaining to you the health benefits associated with consuming them regularly.

© 2014 HeartMD Institute. All rights reserved.

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