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Tips for Having a Guilt-Free Blast at Your Summer Block Party

Block parties are as New York as pizza and taxi cabs! They are a tradition that started almost 100 years ago on the East Side, but now people all over flock to these fun, family-friendly festivals. No matter where you may be, fun, food, neighbors, friends and family are what make a block party great.

An unforgettable block party always has an abundance of classic summer time foods. For those who dread the extra weight that indulging can bring, finding a balance is the key to enjoying the festivities. One important thing to remember: All calories count when it comes to feasting at the block party. And making simple swaps, eating smaller portions and practicing moderation can allow you to enjoy all of the things you love without the extra pounds (and guilt). Here are a few more tips for having a guilt-free block party blast in these last days of summer:

Sweet Substitutions: Many of us look forward to topping off a great meal with a sweet treat afterward. It is easy to get overwhelmed when faced with a variety of dessert options, especially when you’re not sure what the best bet would be to keep calories in check. Offer your guests low-calorie desserts that will satisfy any sweet tooth and the dessert table will be a hit. Preparing foods and drinks with low- and no-calorie sweeteners (see recipes below) is a great way to reduce your calorie intake and help manage your weight.

Swap Your Sips: Low-and no-calorie beverages can also offer great variety for those looking to stay cool and watch their weight. Options like Diet Coke or Coke Zero, smaller water bottles, juice boxes and flavored water allow for people to watch their calories and portions. For extra flavor and fun, pour your favorite flavor of vitaminwater zero into ice trays, freeze and add to water dispensers.

Get Physical: Keep your guests busy with activities that will bring out the inner kid in everyone. Relay races, obstacle courses and bean bag tosses provide hours of fun for the entire family. For the sporty crowd, set up a volleyball net which can double as a badminton court. A sure way to get everyone out of their chairs is music - make a playlist of your favorite summer songs or hold a “dance off”. Remaining physically active throughout the day is a great way to balance out food and drink consumption. The best part is, these simple activities won’t cost much and can be modified for any crowd.

Below are a few recipes that put a healthy spin on popular block party staples.

California Turkey Burgers

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced scallions
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
Nonstick cooking spray
3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
6 whole wheat hamburger buns, split
2 firm, ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 just-ripe avocado, thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

Directions
1. In a small skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the scallions until just softened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, season with the salt and black pepper and let cool. Stir in the sour cream and Worcestershire sauce; add the turkey and mix gently until just combined. Form into 6 patties.
2. Heat a grill to medium-high. Mist grill with cooking spray and cook burgers 5 minutes. Turn and grill until almost cooked through, about 3 minutes more. Top each burger with some of the blue cheese; cook 1 to 2 minutes more or until burgers are just cooked through and cheese is melted.
Arrange burgers on buns and top with sliced tomato, avocado, and red onion.
Makes: 6 servings

Diet Root Beer Float

Ingredients
1 cup low fat ice cream
16 ounce diet root beer
Vanilla extract

Directions
1. Scoop 1/4 cup ice cream into a mug
2. Top with 1/2 cup diet soda and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Makes: 4 servings

White Chocolate Mousse with Berries

Ingredients
1 small box (1 ounce) sugar-free instant white chocolate pudding
2 cups nonfat milk
2 cups nonfat whipped topping
2 cups fresh berries (or frozen, thawed) such as raspberries, blueberries, or huckleberries

Directions
1. In a medium bowl, mix pudding with milk. Stir constantly with a wire whisk for 2 minutes. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Add whipped topping and mix well.
2. Layer mousse with berries in a serving bowl or individual parfait glasses. Be sure to save some berries for the top.
Makes: 8 servings