Barbecuing like a fabulous fitness freak this summer means two things; choosing foods that are nutrient-packed and using cooking techniques that render tasty results without adding potential health risks to your spread. The good news is that there are less “no’s” than there are “go’s” when it comes to having a happy healthy bbq.
First, the Healthy BBQ NOs…
- While charred meat might make it seem more authentically cooked over a fire, it might not be a winning strategy when it comes to your health. Some research has indicated that the smoke and char that can form when cooking meat over open flame might increase levels of Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some scientists think consuming high levels of HCAs and PAHs might increase the risk of certain types of cancer in some individuals. Fortunately, flipping your meat frequently and not eating charred parts are two ways to mitigate possible risks.
- It might seem convenient to tear open a bag of chips. Or maybe you relish wieners. But, you’ll feel more fit at your healthy bbq if you avoid the pre-packaged picnic trap. Processed and preservative-laden side salads, sauces, chips and the like often have extra ingredients that won’t benefit your health. It’s summer. It’s simple. Buy fresh foods that are easy to prepare.
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Say YES, Please, to These…
Lean Meats like Chicken, Bison, and Fish
Consider choosing meats that are from animals raised without antibiotics and were primarily grass-fed for increased health benefits.
The Packet Cooking Method
Tender foods like fish can be seasoned and then layered on a bed of vegetables, wrapped in aluminum foil and popped on the grill for a no fuss, no muss, yet elegant meal. Check out these ideas put together by the Food Network.
Sticking it on a Stick if it can be Stuck
Kabobs are your friend. Whether skewering meat, vegetable chunks, fruit or a mix of all three, cooking colorful kabobs will give you a variety of vitamins and textures to keep things lively. Primavera Kitchen has 15 healthy kabob recipes to try.
Baring Your Buns
Instead of slathering mayo on your burger bun, add interest, moisture, and flavor with toppings like avocado slices, heirloom tomatoes, and feta/goat/blue cheese.
Some friends might appreciate an alternative to bread buns to handle their burgers. Pineapple slices, halved tomatoes, and Swiss chard leaves work well at a happy and healthy bbq. Offer up hot dogs hugged in a romaine lettuce leaf. Get creative!
Toss Portobello Mushroom Burgers and carrot hot dogs onto the grill along with corn on the cob in the husk. In fact, if you can cook it inside, you can cook it outside! Grill asparagus and eggplant. Go beyond (way beyond) the veggie burger from the box!