It’s OK to stuff yourself with burgers and Buffalo wings at winter tailgates because you can hide the resulting flab under sweatshirts and jerseys. But in the summer, going shirtless at pool parties requires a little more discretion when deciding whether to head back to the grill for seconds. Or thirds.
So how do meat-loving guys balance between eating the foods we love, and looking good in a pair of board shorts? I asked Chef Devin Alexander to give me her take on a couple of party favorites to see if we could get healthier versions without sacrificing flavor. Or resorting to using tofu.
Devin wrote The Biggest Loser Cookbook for the hit NBC show, and recently released her newest book, The Most Decadent Diet Ever, with recipes from her show, “Healthy Decadence” which airs on the Discovery Health Channel. Below are two recipes from her new book, one for a Bacon BBQ Cheeseburger that, by just changing a few ingredients, saves 180 calories and 22 grams of blubber-inducing fat; and one for Boneless Buffalo Strips with Blue Cheese Dressing that comes in 302 calories and 38 grams of fat lighter than the original. The waistband of your shorts will thank you.
BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger
(Makes 1 burger)
4 ounces 96% lean ground beef
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 slices center-cut bacon 1 reduced-calorie hamburger bun
1/2 ounce light Swiss cheese slices
1 to 2 tablespoons red onion slivers
2 teaspoons barbecue sauce
Pack the beef tightly together with your hands, and then shape it into a 4-inch-diameter patty on a sheet of wax paper. Sprinkle lightly with salt on both sides, and then place in the freezer for 5 minutes (to help the patty keep its shape).
Preheat a grill to high.
Cut the whole bacon strip in half crosswise. Lay the 3 half strips side by side in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook, ﬂipping them every couple of minutes, until crispy and well done, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Remove the patty from the freezer and place it on the grill. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side for medium rare, or until the desired doneness is reached. Toast the bun halves on an upper grill rack for 30 seconds to 1 minute, watching them carefully. Place the cheese on top of the burger for the last few seconds of cooking so it just begins to melt.
Add the patty to the toasted bun bottom. Lay the bacon strips side by side over the top. Add the onion, spread the barbecue sauce evenly over the inside of the top half of the bun. Serve immediately.
Boneless Buffalo Strips
1 1/2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 chicken tenderloins (about 1 pound), trimmed of tendons
Olive oil spray
1 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce (a thick one), plus more to taste
2 tablespoons light butter (stick, not tub)
Mix the flour, garlic powder, and salt in a medium shallow bowl until well combined. Dip one chicken strip at time into the flour mixture and turn it to coat completely. Then shake off any excess flour. Transfer the strip to a plate. Repeat with the remaining strips, placing them side by side on the plate until they are all coated.
Place a large skillet over high heat. When the skillet is hot, lightly mist it with spray and add the chicken strips side by side, not touching, in a single layer (work in batches, if necessary). Cook until lightly browned on the outside and no longer pink inside, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Place a small, nonstick skillet over low heat and add the butter and hot sauce. Heat, stirring constantly, until the butter is just melted, being careful not to scorch it. Immediately remove from the heat, add the chicken strips, and toss to coat completely. Add more hot sauce, if desired. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes, and then toss again (the sauce will stick better after resting) and serve immediately.
Makes 16 strips
Blue Cheese Dressing
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
3 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat blue cheese
Whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, hot sauce, and vinegar in a medium resealable container until smooth and well combined. Stir in the blue cheese until well combined. Seal the container and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Makes about 3/4 cup.