T his is a guest post from one of our favorites, Veggie Lisa, the expert on all things food & fitness!

 There are many things to love about summertime: family cook-outs, living in your bathing suit all day and night, and yummy food everywhere you turn. It seems like there is always a reason to load up on potato salad and french fries, but the truth is you CAN eat smart when grilling with friends. You just have to know what to look for. Here are a few tips and tricks that get me through the summer without feeling like I need to go on a diet after every social gathering.

Most cook-outs are potluck. There is usually a good variety of everything, including vegetables. Fill ½ of your plate with a green salad or crudites from the veggie tray. Then choose a lean protein and a small starch on the remainder of your plate. This can include something you have been eyeing and my advice is to have a small serving. It will most likely satisfy that craving. Studies show that variety stimulates appetite so you will consume fewer calories than if you take a few bites of many dishes.

Get moving! Don’t skip the gym just because it might be a holiday. I promise you will NOT be the only one there. Some gyms hold special classes or events during summer holidays. Even if everything is closed, I love going on a brisk walk and getting some fresh air.  I have found that it is much easier to squeeze in my workouts first thing before the chaos begins. Exercise also helps the mind make healthier food choices so you can start your day off with a healthy breakfast.

Don’t skip meals. Try to eat sensibly leading up to a big meal. Make sure to get enough protein before as well.  This will help keep you full longer and curb your cravings. The easiest way to do this is to drink a simple protein shake before you head out the door. Focus on getting between 20-30 grams before the meal.

Choose wisely. It’s ok to be picky. I like to try to healthiest food at the table and eat that first. Then I pick out one or two things I want to indulge in and have a very small serving of each. There is nothing worse than wasting calories on something that turns out isn’t that good. Quality over quantity.

Don’t drink your calories. Alcoholic beverages, fruity punches, and liquors are loaded with sugar and very high in calories.  If you want to have a drink just make sure to alternate with water in between each drink.

Don’t be afraid to branch out and try new things! Try making your favorite dish without the extra fat, sugar or carbs. Wrap your burger in a lettuce leaf, fill your plate with plants (fruits and veggies), or try making your favorite dessert using healthier oils such as coconut or olive oil.

Here is one of my favorite go-to healthy recipes that I love taking to a summer party. Who says your burger has to have beef? This black bean burger with cilantro greek yogurt will change your mind about veggie burgers. It’s so good, and perfect for those summer cook-outs.

When you hear the word veggie burger, what comes to mind? Probably a gummy, disgusting looking soy patty. Textured soy protein is used often in “veggie burgers’ because it is 1-cheap and 2-has some protein and 3-the burgers stick together. Now, there are technically little to no vegetables in your typical veggie burger. True but sad. Many folks shy away from making their own patties because they can be slightly intimidating to make. But after years and years of trial and error, I am so excited to share the best….most flavorful black bean burger recipe with you! So many people love this recipe…even meat eaters! I also like to make the batter, shape into patties and freeze. Then when I am needing lunch in a hurry, I can pop one out, place it on the stove and have a delicious veggie burger with lots of vegetables! Also, the Cilantro Greek Yogurt is awesome to have on hand as a topping to salad, soups and even veggies.

 

Black Bean Burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces toasted whole wheat bread
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP seeded and deveined jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ¼ c cooked brown rice
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ c chopped cilantro

 

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, pulse bread to form crumbs. Set aside
  2. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno and cumin. Sauté for 2 minutes
  3. Pour mixture in food processor and add: black beans, brown rice, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pulse until beans are chopped, but do not puree. Scrape mixture into bowl and add half of the breadcrumbs and all of the cilantro. Stir until combined.
  4. Form patties ( I like to make a big ball about the size of a small baseball and flatten out). Place patties on parchment lined sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.
  5. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in pan and fry patties on 4-5 minutes each side.
  6. Top burger with cilantro greek yogurt, avocado, tomato and wrap in a lettuce cup

 

Cilantro Greek Yogurt

Ingredients

  • ½ c plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 TBSP finely chopped cilantro
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine yogurt, lime juice, cumin, cilantro, and pepper. Stir well and allow to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.