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Healthy meat-portion strategy for July 4 or any holiday

There’s a tradition in New York City steak houses, such as the legendary Peter Luger, to serve the meat presliced on a platter. Everyone digs in and takes what they want as the platter is passed around communal-style.

Luger is the furthest thing from a healthy-portions restaurant, but last night I discovered the hidden health benefit of preslicing meat like this. I was grilling steaks over charcoal—a once-per-summer steak ritual. Some were nicely rare, some more done, but rather than ask folks how they liked their meat, I just let the beef rest and then sliced both rare and less-rare steaks and laid everything out on one platter.

What I noticed was how little meat everyone ate—far less than if I had put a steak on every plate. Yes, half the people at the table were part of our #socialdiet deal, or married to someone who is, but everyone was taking heaping portions of the grilled-green-bean-and-onion salad and the arugula-feta-cabbage-avocado salad. Then they’d just add a few glancing slices of beef to the plate. Based on how much was left over, I’m betting no one ate more than 4 ounces of beef. That’s a healthy portion.

If you're facing the 4th or any barbecue, and burgers are on the menu, well, the only strategy I've found lately is cutting the burger in half and leaving half on the platter (or with a partner). Then load the half up with lots of pickles or low-cal sides to make it satisfy.

(Thanks to Hunter Lewis at Southern Living for the grilled-green-bean-and-onion salad idea, which was served with a delicate lime/sugar/fish sauce vinaigrette. I’ll furnish a more detailed recipe in a future blog: It’s definitely going to be in heavy rotation at my house this summer.)

What tricks have you learned to keep portions in control? Share your advice—comment here, email Scott_Mowbray@timeinc.com, and tweet @ScottMowb or @Cooking_Light using #SocialDiet.