Saturday, March 20, 2010

Summer diet-busters: Eat This Not That Alternatives

Summer means tasty treats at the ballpark, barbecue and church picnics, but it’s a cruel coincidence that ice-cream sundaes, Italian sausages and creamy potato salad are served during swimsuit season. Play your cards right and you can have summer flavor without the fat. Stephanie Middleberg, a certified dietitian-nutritionist with Nu-Train, scanned our list of summer favorites and told us what to ax and what to eat instead. And don’t worry, this summer’s menu won’t be boring. (Yes, you can still have a beer while you watch the Mets.)

AT THE STREET FAIR

Skip the sausage. The average Italian sausage can run you from 425 TO 500 CALORIES with all the trimmings, it’s heavy on grease and comes with a bulky bun.

Grab the chicken skewers. “The chicken kabobs served at street fairs are always tasty, and one skewer is about 140 CALORIES,” says Middleberg.

AT THE PICNIC

Skip the potato salad. Potato salads vary, but a cup of the average homemade version means about 350 CALORIES (180 FROM FAT) and has up to 57% of your daily cholesterol. And who stops at a cup?

Grab the baked beans. If they’re vegetarian, baked beans verge on pretty darn healthful. “A cup of baked beans is 150 CALORIES AND 1.5 GRAMS OF FAT,” says Middleberg. “And beans have fiber and protein, so they’re going to keep you fuller longer.” Other options: cole slaw (especially vinegar-based), chickpea salad and bean salad.

AT THE BIRTHDAY PARTY

Skip the ice-cream cake. There’s nothing tastier at a summer birthday party, but a slice of cake from Carvel is 240 CALORIES — and the serving size is a piddling ½ cup, so you could end up eating more than 600 CALORIES without thinking twice.

Grab the ice-cream novelties. “A good old-fashioned ice-cream sandwich is about 160 CALORIES, but then you’re done,” says Middleberg. Of note, the Skinny Cow versions are largely fat-free.

AT THE BALL PARK

Skip Carl's Philly cheese steak. Delicious, gooey cheese steaks can easily approach 900 CALORIES per sandwich.

Grab a roast-beef sandwich. “They have a Boar’s Head,” Middleberg says of the food court at the Yankees’ new home. “So get a roast-beef sandwich on rye with mustard, no mayo. People don’t think of roast beef as a healthy choice, but [at about 350 CALORIES a sandwich] it’s second to turkey — not that high in sodium or saturated fat. It’s a clean option.”

AT THE FAIRGROUND

Skip the funnel cake. Middleberg pegs the carnival classic at between 700 AND 1,000 CALORIES.
Grab a crepe. Opt for a fruit-filled crepe; with only 300 CALORIES, it’s a trendy dessert you’ll easily find.

AT CITI FIELD

Skip the peanuts. The Mets’ new home has its own Shake Shack, but you’ve decided to be good and just have some peanuts. Bad idea, says Middleberg. Without an actual meal to eat, portion control is difficult. When you’ve gradually eaten an entire bag of nuts by the bottom of the ninth, you’ll have consumed more than 750 CALORIES.

Grab a regular-size hot dog. “Watch the condiments,” says Middleberg, “but mustard is fine. A Nathan’s hot dog has just under 300 CALORIES. Not a big offender.” So yes, you can have that beer.

AT THE BAR

Skip the mega-margarita. Frozen drinks pack a notorious amount of sugar, even if you make them at home. Combine 4 ounces of Bacardi frozen-margarita mix (180 CALORIES), 2 ounces Jose Cuervo (ABOUT 140 CALORIES) and 1 ounce of triple sec (ABOUT 100 CALORIES), and you’re gulping more than 400 CALORIES before dinner even starts. What’s more, your home version is a couple sizes smaller than the one you’ll get at Caliente Cab or Dallas BBQ.

Grab a "classic" margarita. If you’re not averse to the taste of tequila, cut out the mix and you’ll halve the calories, says Middleberg. Drink your tequila and triple sec with lime juice on the rocks. Less intense options: Sangria will usually keep you under 200 CALORIES a glass, or embrace flavored vodkas. For instance, Belvedere Black Raspberry and soda is only 50 calories per cocktail.

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Skip the Mister Softee milk shake.

According to Mister Softee, 2 cups of the variety of soft serve you’ll find in most NYC trucks means 170 CALORIES, 80 FROM FAT. (Also 6 grams of saturated fat.) P.S.: Your no-whip Starbucks Strawberries & Crème Frappuccino counts as a milk shake. It’s 440 CALORIES.

Grab an alternative. “There are a couple things you can do here,” says Middleberg. “One, get a kiddie cone and you cut the calories in half — especially in a sugar cone, which is only 20 CALORIES.” Other options: choose an all-natural frozen fruit bar (Edy’s Strawberry Whole Fruit bar is only 80 CALORIES) or an Italian ice. Popsicles might still be sugary but, Middleberg points out, they’re fat-free.