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Backyard Barbecue Shortcuts

You can cheat and still impress with these tricks.

Your friends are having a cookout and you’re short on time and ideas of what to bring. Follow these 4 rules.

  1. Pick a crowd pleaser.
  2. Keep it simple with very few ingredients.
  3. Make sure part of it is homemade.
  4. Always serve pretty.

Don’t resort to a bag of Doritos and store bought salsa. These ideas will get you off the hook and out the door in a hurry. And since this is a blog about being FIT, gotta keep it reasonably healthy! I decided to share a hodge podge:  a couple of “dippers”, a salad with a unique element, and a dessert.

Guacamole- The Easy Way

All You Need
1 package Wholly Guacamole* (the “cheat” ingredient)
1 ripe avocado cut in big chunks
Diced red onion
Diced fresh tomatoes OR
Petite diced, unflavored canned tomatoes, fully drained (another “cheat” ingredient)
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh or dried parsley
Sliced bell peppers (the more colors, the better!)
Pop Chips, Snapea Crisps, or whole grain crackers

*This is the only pre-made guacamole brand I will use because it’s made with real avocados.

Bruschetta Dip with Toasted Pine Nuts

Combine These Ingredients
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained well
I can chopped black olives
1 T lime juice
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Fresh cilantro, chopped (dried will work in a pinch)
3 T toasted pine nuts (toast in a dry skillet)

Serve with large whole grain crackers. The chili powder really gives this hearty dip a twist.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Throw a salad together with colorful vegetables. Add one unique topping or bring an unusual dressing. I chose heirloom tomatoes. Other ideas: homemade whole grain croutons, whole wheat tortilla strips, hearts of palm, artichokes, garlic stuffed olives, sesame sticks, etc.

Name your salad! When you arrive at the barbecue, refer to your dish as an “Heirloom Tomato Salad” or an “Organic Vegetable Salad with Raspberry & Citrus Dressing.” (Assuming it’s true, of course).

Avoid tupperware-like containers and store-bought dressing bottles. Display matters.

Berry Dessert Bowl

Frozen mixed berries from Costco, defrosted (the “cheat” ingredient)
Sliced fresh strawberries
Cut up seedless watermelon
Sprinkle of Splenda

You can’t go wrong with a bowl of fruit but you can go broke. Fruit, especially berries, can cost a small fortune to feed a group. So I use beautiful (and delicious) frozen berries that I can buy in a huge bag at Costco. Then I add one or two FRESH fruits which makes all the difference.

Mix and serve in an elongated shallow bowl for extra pizazz. Garnish with fresh mint.

Simple, semi-homemade dishes can be delicious and beautiful. Now would you like to try my “Whistler Rolls” at your next barbecue? (wink)

[sneak peek message=”Vietnamese Spring Rolls can be a work of art and perfect for entertaining the FIT way. Stay tuned tomorrow when I suggest you do a little more work to create a patio masterpiece.”]

"Bad habits are like a comfortable bed. Easy to get into, but hard to get out of."

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