What’s Labor Day without mile high platters of barbecued food? For many of us, it is  a great way to say goodbye summer and have one last celebration before we are back to school and work. The question is, how do we keep it healthy?

Most cookouts include fatty, starchy and greasy food such as burgers, hot dogs, ribs, and potato salad.  But there are ways to have fun with family and friends and enjoy some delicious food this weekend without completely blowing it.  We have some easy ways to make sure you have a healthy Labor Day cookout.

  • 1

    Get Fruity

    For dessert, whip up a quick fruit salad with apples, oranges, cantaloupe, berries, kiwis, and whatever else you like. You could also grill your favorite fruit, like peaches, bananas, or pineapple!

  • 2

    Go Lean

    Lean protein is a great choice for your Labor Day menu. Try skinless chicken breasts, lean ground beef, lean steak, and turkey burgers. Trim off the fat before grilling.

  • 3

    Use Marinade

    Grilled meats can be high in carcinogens. To cut down on those unwanted substances, use marinades with herbs and spices like thyme, garlic, and rosemary. Marinating protein like beef in red wine or beer can reduce carcinogens when grilled. Also, reducing the heat lowers carcinogens too.

  • 4

    Hold The Mayo

    Even a fairly small serving, about 2/3-cup of potato salad has an average of 300 calories and nearly 20g fat. Not worth it!  Bake your potatoes on the grill, make a low-calorie potato salad, or skip it altogether.

  • 5

    Seafood

    You have heard the old joke - I am on a seafood diet..."I see food and I eat it!"  Actually seafood is one of the healthiest cookout options there is. Try planked salmon, shrimp skewers with a rosemary garlic rub, shrimp burgers, or fish tacos.

  • 6

    Whole Grains

    It is hard to eat a burger or dog without a bun, but we can certainly choose healthier version. Pick whole grain buns, tortillas and crackers.  Go light on the condiments as well.

  • 7

    Water Water Everywhere

    It's too easy to mistake thirst for hunger, and when you're dehydrated, it is easy to just grab what is in front of you. Keep a glass of water in your hand at all times. If you are drinking alcohol, alternate drinks with a glass of water because alcohol can dehydrate you. Choose low calories beer (around 100 calories for a 12-oz. bottle) or wine (around 120 calories per 5-oz. glass).

  • 8

    Get Moving

    Whether it is a volleyball game, frisbee catch or a romp in the pool, make sure you get some physical activity to help burn off the calories. Be sure to stay hydrated.