Harley Pasternak Blogs: A Healthier Barbecue

Plus, the trainer provides fabulous recipes

Photo: Courtesy Harley Pasternak

For many of us, holidays are a time of celebration, fun, and – gluttony!

Ribs, cheeseburgers, creamy coleslaw, sweet ice tea, and beer. Lots and lots of beer.

For some reason, we have come to define a good party by how rich or heavy the food is and how plentiful the margaritas and daiquiris are. The fact is, you can still have an amazing party while being somewhat healthier and more mindful, if you choose.

This past Labor Day my wife and I celebrated at the home of our dear friends, Extra! host Maria Menounos and her partner Kevin Undergaro.

Maria and Kevin always throw fun parties with incredible food. This holiday was no different. What I love about the way they entertain is the food options they give their guests.

They have both sinful and healthier versions of all your favorite barbecue dishes. Next to the creamy coleslaw, they have a lighter Asian salad. They barbecued big juicy beef burgers and their leaner cousin, the turkey burger.

They served beef hot dogs and veggie dogs. To drink, they served everything from Piña Coladas to Smart Water. And for dessert, we had the option of sinfully good key lime pie or an amazing fresh fruit salad.

While I don’t expect all of you to forgo the all the heavier food options at a holiday barbecue, it’s nice to have the choice to mix up some lighter fair with some of your favorite heavier dishes.

I, for one, knew I had to have a real beef burger with all the fixins, so I chose a lighter coleslaw and the fruit salad for dessert.

For the first time since I moved to California, I left a Labor Day barbecue feeling great!

As a finishing touch, I even convinced Maria to do an impromptu workout in her bountiful vegetable garden. Even after a couple daiquiris, she was a good sport and agreed to do a circuit wedged between the basil and zucchini plants.

Between your own set of situps, try my recipe for my BBQ Mini Chicken Burgers and my healthy coleslaw recipes:

BBQ Chicken Sliders

Serves 6

1 small red onion
1 lb. lean ground chicken
¾ tsp. cumin
6 tbsp. barbecue sauce
½ cup chopped cilantro, plus 6 sprigs (for garnish)
2 whole wheat pitas
6 thin slices smoked Gouda (¾ oz. total)

1. Chop one half of onion to measure 1/4 cup and slice remaining half.
2. Combine chopped onion, chicken, chopped cilantro, cumin, and 4 tablespoons of the barbecue sauce. Form into 6 equal (3-in. diameter) patties (mixture will be very wet).
3. Separate pitas and cut each half with 3-inch round cookie cutter to make 12 circles.
4. Heat lightly oiled grill to medium heat. Grill burgers 4 minutes, flip and top with cheese. Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes longer.
5. Serve each burger between pita rounds with sliced onion, cilantro sprigs, and 1 tsp. of the remaining sauce.

Slim Slaw

Serves 5 1 bag (8 cups) prepackaged coleslaw (8 cups)
3 tbsp. low fat mayo
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. honey mustard
2 tbsp. agave

1. MIX ingredients and serve!

Check back every Wednesday for more insider tips on Hollywood’s hottest bodies – and learn how to get one yourself! Plus: follow Harley on Twitter at @harleypasternak

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