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Summer is almost in full swing and barbecues, cookouts, and picnics are happening every weekend.

 While many of us are getting ready to fire up the grill and serve up some classic barbecue fare this season, there are a few healthier choices  you can make. You may not even know that many of the cookout foods that you enjoy can be replaced by a healthier option.

We've compiled a list of the unhealthiest cookout foods and what you can serve instead to still have a delicious cookout.

Hamburgers and hot dogs are a cookout classic — and there's no need to cut them out entirely. Try opting for lean hamburger beef or even trying a turkey or vegetable burger. Same goes for the hot dogs — try a lean beef or turkey dog. Skip the bacon, cheese, and mayonnaise, and add a little mustard and fresh vegetables instead. We've found even more popular cookout foods, from mains to sides and desserts, that we've made healthier. Sounds easy enough, right?

By just making a few changes, you can completely transform your cookout menu into something healthy and lower in calories for your family and guests. This summer is about being fit, healthy, and active. Don't get weighed down by unhealthy cookout foods at you barbecue.

Try some of these tips and suggestions to have the best (and healthiest) cookout on the block.

  • 1. Sugary Barbecue Sauce

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    Check the label on your store-bought barbecue sauce. Many of them are super high in sugar and sodium. Keep the sauce to a minimum or try making your own to ensure healthy ingredients are used.

  • 2. Mayonnaise-based Salads

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    Pasta, macaroni, and potato salads are full of heavy and thick mayonnaise-based dressings. Instead, use a nonfat Greek-style yogurt for the base. You can also use a light, citrus dressing with olive oil and fresh herbs.

  • 3. Ranch Dressing

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    For dipping, avoid the sour cream and onion dip along with the ranch dressing. Try guacamole and salsa instead. For salad dressings, use a light vinaigrette and stick to the dark leafy greens for the healthiest salad options. 

  • 4. Fatty Steak Cuts

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    Choose lean cuts of steak without visible, marbled fat like London broil, skirt steak, top sirloin, or filet mignon. Trim the fat before you marinate and grill it to get the healthiest piece.

    Check out more unhealthy barbecue items.

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