MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wednesday is Independence Day, and many people in Minnesota will be firing up the grill.

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Would you believe that a typical cookout meal can have more than a day’s worth of calories and more than two days’ worth of unhealthy fat?

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Registered Dietitian Julie Upton had a few tips to share on how to fire up the fun and flavor of the BBQ, without all of the fat and calories. Here’s what she told us:

  • First off, look at ways to bring veggies into the menu. I always have veggie kabobs at the BBQ. What’s great about grilling is that the veggies get sweeter with hi temperatures.
  • For all of those sour cream based dips, use a non-fat Greek yogurt. You’re going to eliminate all of the fat out of that recipe, and it’s still going to taste great. For chips, something like Pirate’s Booty is great because it’s baked, it’s all natural, and has half the fat of a traditional potato chip and less calories. Baked pita chips are also great because they are going to go well with some of those dips.
  • When it comes to building a better burger, you’re going to want to go with a lean sirloin if you’re using beef. I always use turkey because it’s so much leaner. You’re going to save at least 100 calories by switching to turkey. Also consider portabella mushrooms. They are completely fat free. You’ll save at least another 100 calories from making swap from turkey burger to a portabella. I skip the cheese, and I pile on the veggies: lettuce, tomatoes, avocado.
  • For dessert, look for ways to infuse in seasonal fruit. Fresh berries are naturally sweet. Partner those with a Greek yogurt. That’s a wonderful dessert.
  • Beer is often thought of as the fourth food group when it comes to a cook-out. Make sure it’s a light beer. Save some calories that way. We don’t want to drink our calories because it doesn’t really fill us up. Look for calorie-free waters, low calorie beverages and that’s a great way to lighten up your BBQ menu.
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Upton says if you follow her tips, you can save 500 to 600 calories off of your meal.