Ribs, Lightened Up

by in Meal Makeovers, August 31, 2012

ribs
This backyard classic can be tricky to make, messy to eat and tough on the waistline. We can’t do much about the mess, but can help out with everything else. Grab your napkins!

Nutrition Facts
Order up a platter of baby backs at a restaurant and you’ll be downing over 1,000 calories and a staggering 70-plus grams of fat. Portion control must be emphasized no matter what and making your own is your best bet.

Ribs 101
Basic options for ribs are pork or beef. Both are flavorful and juicy when properly cooked, but pork tends to be the leaner option.

The most common cuts of pork ribs are baby back or spare ribs. While spare ribs are meatier, they’re also higher in fat and calories. They’re also oddly shaped which can make them harder to cook evenly. You will often see them sold trimmed “St. Louis Style” to make the rack of ribs easier to deal with.

Overall, baby backs win out as the lowest in fat and calories, plus they’re more tender and quick-cooking.

Tips for (more figure-friendly) juicy and tender ribs

  • Impart big flavor with a dry rub
  • Start cooking in the oven on low heat to render off some of the fat
  • Cook in a bit of apple juice for more flavor
  • Finish with a light basting of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Keep portions modest – 2 to 3 ribs per person
  • Serve with lots of yummy and healthy sides like pasta salad, roasted potatoes and grilled veggies

Sweet and Smoky Baby Back Ribs
Serves: 12

2 (3-pound) racks, bone-in baby back ribs
¾ cup Smoky Fennel Mix
1 cup 100% apple juice
1 cup barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 225-degrees F. Place ribs on a double layer of aluminum foil. Rub on both sides with Fennel Mix. Wrap ribs in foil, leaving a small section open on the top. Place wrapped racks of ribs on a large sheet pan and transfer to the oven. Before closing the oven door, poor apple juice on the ribs through the opening in the foil. Cook for 2 hours. Remove ribs from foil and reserve ½ cup of the juices.

Preheat outdoor grill to medium. Mix reserved juices with barbecue sauce and set aside.

Grill ribs over indirect heat for 10 to 15 minutes per side. For the last 10 minutes of cooking baste with barbecue sauce. Remove from grill and allow to rest for 15 minutes before cutting.

Nutrition Info Per Serving (2 ribs)
Calories: 375
Total Fat:  14 grams
Saturated Fat:  3 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 5 grams
Sugars: 4 grams
Protein:  42 grams
Sodium:  537 milligrams
Cholesterol:  121 milligrams
Fiber:  0 gram

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Order this classic dish at a restaurant and you’re in for a 900-calorie meal (that’s without appetizers or dessert!). Opt for frozen and you won’t do much better at around 700 calories a pop. For both options, fat ranges from 40 to 60 grams and sodium can double the recommended daily amount. Instead, cozy up to a homemade version Healthy Eats style.

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