Chicken kabobs cook on a grill.
Cookouts—not just for hot dogs, hamburgers and chips. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

One of the best parts of the summer and fall seasons is being able to grill out and spend time with our families.

While many may be tempted to throw brats on the Weber and serve up a tub of macaroni salad, it’s important to continue making healthy eating choices.

Here are some easy tips to follow at your next family cookout:

1. Be colorful.

Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables with meals. Try veggie kabobs: load up skewers with mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, or other veggies. Spray lightly with olive oil cooking spray and grill until slightly blackened.

2. Make a better burger.

If you’re grilling burgers, be sure to buy lean or extra lean beef, and drain off the excess fat after cooking. Avoid making huge patties—remember that a serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards (3 ounces). Try ground turkey or chicken breasts for a tasty change, just be sure to remove the skin.

3. Go Fish!

Oily fish like tuna and salmon have great nutritional benefits, including omega-3 fatty acids. Rub a fillet with lemon juice and parsley, thyme or rosemary for enhanced flavor.

4. Cut the salt.

Cut back on salty seasonings and condiments like teriyaki, soy and barbecue sauce. Try using herbs, spices, vegetables and even fruit to spice up your grilled foods.

5. Watch the toppings.

Choose low-fat, reduced-fat, or fat-free cheese for your sandwiches and hamburgers. Hold the mayonnaise as it adds a lot of fat and calories. In fact, even things like ketchup can have high amounts of sugar and sodium, so be sure to limit those as well.

6. Be fiber friendly.

Choose whole-grain, high-fiber breads and rolls, such as whole wheat, oats, oatmeal, whole rye, whole-grain corn and buckwheat. In addition to being good for you, they add more flavor and texture to your meal.

7. Practice portion control.

Save half your plate for fruit and non-starchy vegetables. Go easy on the meat and starchy sides like bread, pasta, potatoes and corn.

8. Serve less junk food.

Things like baked goods, chips and ice cream can lead to excessive intake of sugar, fat and overall calories. Consider fresh or frozen fruit as a great dessert. Try frozen blueberries, strawberries or grapes with a serving of low-fat yogurt. Another tasty treat is grilled fruit such as peaches or pears.