Just like in the winter, most of us enjoy comfort foods like big bowls of chili with all of our favorite ingredients and toppings, or a warm bowl of mashed potatoes and chicken and noodles. While there is comfort food in the winter, we enjoy the relaxing and enticing smell of the family grill. There’s nothing better than the aromas of burgers, pork or even chicken cooking on a charcoal grill. If you happen to be on a special diet, or need to watch your calories, there’s no reason why you still can’t enjoy your favorite summer dinners. By making just a few small changes, you can still relax in the summer at your family picnic or BBQ.

If you are a sucker for grilled hot-dogs, you can choose those with less sodium or made without pork. Look for hot-dogs that have turkey and are nitrate free. Should you want to add a hamburger to go with your hot-dog, choose lean meat, turkey burgers, or even the vegetarian kind. Another vegetarian option is to grill a portabello mushroom on the grill, add a little bit of seasoning, and then place it on a bun. You still get to enjoy the juicy flavors of the grill-except its a healthier option!

To add some veggies to your summer plate of summer cook-out goodies, try some vegetable kabobs. Purchase some kabob grilling sticks and place some of your favorite vegetables to them. Add some pieces of fruit for some sweetness too. Add green peppers, onions, tomatoes, red peppers or even some pineapple. Grilled veggie kabobs can make a perfect side-dish or an appetizer.

There are other ways to keep your cook-out healthy besides changing up the menu as well. Cut off any additional fat that is found on the meat before cooking it. Before starting your grill, be sure that it is clean and free of any debris and leftover charcoal. Instead of using salt to add to meats, try other herbal seasonings such as Basil, Sage, Oregano, or Rosemary.

Grilling outside doesn’t always have to mean extra calories. It can actually be quite healthy if you choose options with less fat and sodium. Even if you are dieting, you can still enjoy the juicy flavors that come along with cooking out on the grill, and relax with your friends and family. There”s nothing better than a great day of outdoor grilling with those that you care about the most.