Lean Body Labor Day Cookout Menu


Labor Day Weekend is upon us and the summer is quickly coming to an end (and two of my kids just started kindergarten!).  This signals that it is time to have a great cookout, celebrate, and soak up as much vitamin D as you can before the ‘sundown by 4pm’ days come upon us.

When it comes to your diet and fitness you can do two things:

1. Go wild, splurge, enjoy yourself, and pretend you are an average American. This approach is completely fine. Work hard, play hard. If you have been really nailing your diet and training program, then kicking back and enjoying yourself with all the BBQ goodness you can find isn’t the end of the world.

However, I don’t recommend this approach to your Labor Day festivities if it encourages and supports a binging and then restricting behavior where you lose pseudo-control of what you are consuming. This is not the kind of behavior that you want to reinforce, and in my experience, is predictive of a future (or representative of a past) of yo-yo dieting. If you find yourself in this situation – know that you are not alone and you should opt for Labor Day #2 option (below).

2. Keep on your plan, enjoy yourself with a modified BBQ celebration. Last week I was talking with Joe Dowdell about some mutual clients who are working to get lean. One is struggling and we both agreed that the sticking point for this client was the mindset. Getting lean and staying lean requires a change in your mindset. You will eat differently from most people. You will say ‘no’ to food much more than the people around you (when was the last time you heard someone refuse food – it rarely happens). Your behaviors will be different. You’ll embrace moving more. You’ll be rejuvenated by being more active. It will fill your bucket up; it won’t be something that you dread.

A great example of this mindset shift is displayed in the highly underrated book, “Move a Little, Lose a Lot.” This book was written by Dr. James Levine. Dr. Levine is the world’s leading authority on non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) which you may also know by the name non-exercise physical activity (NEPA). This is basically how much you move during the day, not including deliberate exercise (activity trackers are great for this).

In the book, Dr. Levine describes an approach that is more elegant than just the typical advice of ‘park farther away at work’ and ‘take the stairs instead of the elevator.’ What Dr. Levine describes is a change in how your approach life.  By default, you start making decisions that lead to moving more – not less.

In the book, he gives the example of two different kinds of Super Bowl parties. One involves a pre-Super Bowl game of flag football and some light snacking, followed by a viewing experience that requires people to get up and walk in order to get snacks and such throughout the game.

Compare this to pre-game pizza and beer followed by wings and beer during the game. Totally different experiences. How can you set up your Labor Day party to embrace activity? Get a piece of paper and take a couple of minutes to come up with ways that you can craft a more active lean body party.

Once you have your active party set up, the next step is the menu. I’ve got you covered. Here is a great flavor filled, calorie controlled, Labor Day cookout meal that includes everything you would expect: beer, hot dogs, coleslaw, and frozen desserts.

If you can save calories and enjoy a classic cookout meal – why not do it right?  You work hard during the week controlling your portions and calories – let’s support your hard work as opposed to negate it.

First up are the hot dogs. We’re going to use Applegate Farm Turkey Dogs. These are one of the few hot dog products that aren’t full of junk and contain more protein than fat. In an effort to boost the protein in the meal, we are going to use 2 turkey dogs for every one bun.

Speaking of the bun, as much as you (and me) love the puffy and soft enriched white flour New England style hot dog buns, for this weekend’s party let’s use sprouted grain buns. When grains are sprouted, the process converts some of the carbohydrates to protein. So you get a lower carb and higher protein product that is also full of fiber (note: in the pics I’m actually using gluten free buns, as 2 of the 5 members in my household are gluten free and I went to 3 supermarkets and they were all sold out of spouted grain hot dog buns).


For condiments, you can use the classic yellow mustard but I’ve switched out regular ketchup for reduced sugar ketchup (it used to be called “One Carb Ketchup” but apparently low carb isn’t a hip buzz word anymore).

Napa Cabbage Slaw

Instead of the traditional mayo and sour cream laden cole slaw we’re going to use my favorite recipes at the moment – Napa Cabbage Ginger Slaw.

Miller 64

The beverage that we’re going to pair with this cookout classic meal is Miller 64. Miller 64 is basically Miller Light with less alcohol. Beer purists might be in an uproar with my choice, but I’m not a big beer guy, and a real bottle of beer can contain anywhere between 150-300 calories. I’m happy to save those calories.

What about dessert? Half a cup of Ben & Jerry’s can pack a whopping 300 calories (this entire meal will be less than 500 calories), so that’s out. Instead, we’ll use Arctic Zero which a really cool milk protein based frozen dessert. It is sort of a hybrid between ice cream and sherbet. Strawberry is currently my favorite flavor (but I haven’t tried them all).

Here’s how to put it all together.

Lean Body Labor Day Cookout Menu[pinterest count=”horizontal” float=”right”]

Lean Eating Labor Day Cookout Menu

Makes 1 servings (easily scaled to meet your party needs)

  • 2 Applegate Farms Turkey Dogs
  • 1 sprouted grain hot dog bun
  • 1 serving of Napa Cabbage Ginger Slaw
  • Reduced Sugar Ketchup and Yellow Mustard, as needed
  • 1 bottle Miller 64
  • 2/3 cup Strawberry Artic Zero, dessert
  1. Grill turkey dogs until heated through. (Optional: toast bun on grill while cooking turkey dogs)
  2. Slice turkey dogs lengthwise and load into bun. This makes it easier to stack two dogs in one bun.
  3. Enjoy with a serving of Napa Cabbage Ginger slaw, a cold Miller 64, and some Strawberry Artic Zero for dessert.

[hr]Nutrition Information per Serving:  480 calories, 15g fat (3g saturated), 54g carbohydrate, 12g fiber, 28g protein)
Dish Categories:impact carbs[hr]

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

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