Don't you just hate that awkwardness when you're going to a cookout, but you're on a diet and can't eat what the hostess is serving?
You're left with a choice: Either ditch the diet and try to make the best choices from among what's being served while feeling guilty (and hungry); or bring your own meal, which I've always thought looks insulting to the hostess no matter how well-intentioned you are.
What's a dieter to do?
At this week's weigh-in for the Shape We're In project, the Jenny Craig counselors were prepared for this situation. They had handouts and advice at hand.
* First, know the difference between lean meats and higher-fat meats. If your hostess has asked that everyone bring their own meat to toss on the grill, you're in luck.
Lean meats include choice grades that are trimmed of fat, such as round, sirloin, flank, tenderloin, chuck roast, T-bone and Porterhouse. Figure your calorie count this way: 1 ounce of these grilled meats equals 35-55 calories.
Higher-fat meats are ground beef, corned beef, prime rib and filet mignon. Figure your calories per serving: 1 ounce equals 75-100 calories.
* A great alternative to meat is grilling veggies. Grilling makes everything taste better anyway, but it really brings out the flavor in veggie kebabs. You can even sweeten the skewer by including a few shrimp.
Here are two recipes passed out at Jenny Craig that you might want to try. Prep time for each is just 10 minutes.
Grilled T-Bones With Barbecue Rub
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspooon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 pounds well-trimmed, 1-inch-thick T-bone steak
Combine rub ingredients; press evenly onto beef. Grill steaks uncovered 14-16 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally.
Remove bones and carve steaks into slices. Yields 4 servings.
Count per serving: 1/2 starch, 4 meat, 1 free item.
1/2 cup pineapple, cut into cubes
1/2 cup orange bell pepper, cut into cubes
1/2 cup button mushrooms
4 cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup zucchini, cut into cubes
1/2 cup sweet onions, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
4 wooden skewers about 10 inches in length
Nonstick vegetable spray
Toss the first six ingredients with teriyaki sauce and marinate 10 minutes.
Thread items onto skewers. Bring grill to medium heat and spray with nonstick vegetable spray. Grill until tender (about 8 minutes) turning skewers halfway through. Yields 2 servings.
Weight Watchers Count per serving: 1 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 fruit, 1 free item.
Note: If you've ever watched Paula Deen on the Food Network, you know she always tells her viewers to soak their wooden skewers in water before threading food onto them so the skewers won't burn on the grill.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...