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Throw a Healthier Barbecue

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  • Fresh and healthy off the grill

    Fresh and healthy off the grill

    Summer is here, and that means taking part in the joy of a barbecue, complete with delicious foods fresh off the grill. Unfortunately, some barbecue foods are highly processed, loaded with fat, and have little nutritional value.

    Don’t despair, barbecue-lovers. Your grill doesn’t need to play host to a high-fat dinner. Here are some ways to create a grilled meal that will satisfy friends and family, while providing a tasty and nutritious meal.

  • Never mind the chips

    Never mind the chips

    Get creative and healthy with appetizers at your barbecue. There’s no need to resort to potato chips or other fatty warm-ups while your guests chat and wait for the main course. 

    Brush a whole-wheat flatbread or pita with olive oil and Italian herbs, and top it with a bit of low-fat cheese. Grill until hot and the cheese melts. Sprinkle your nutritious appetizer with basil or arugula, cut it into triangles, and serve.

    Kale chips are another simple and healthy alternative to potato chips. Chop up several bunches of kale, and wash and dry them as you would for a salad. Drizzle the kale leaves with olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. Pop the kale in the oven until the edges of the leaves are slightly browned, about 10 to 15 minutes, and enjoy! 

  • Choose leaner meats

    Choose leaner meats

    Leaner meats can lower the fat and calorie content of your barbecue meal. Consider exchanging fatty premade burgers for chicken breasts. If you use whole meats, trim off the excess fat.

    If your heart is set on traditional burgers, buy extra-lean ground beef and make your own patties at home. Better yet, swap out ground beef and use ground chicken or turkey instead. You’ll have a lighter, more nutritious meal while avoiding the chemicals in processed meats. Leaner meats cook faster and are easier to overcook, so watch them closely and remove them as soon as they reach the appropriate temperature.

  • Experiment with fish

    Experiment with fish

    Fish offers significant health benefits and is a delicious alternative to meat. Research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish can help lower your blood pressure and cut your risk of developing blood clots.

    The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish a week. Many types of fresh fish can be grilled to create a mouth-watering meal. Consider trying fresh fish steaks, such as swordfish, tuna, halibut, salmon, or monkfish.

  • Throw veggies on the grill

    Throw veggies on the grill

    There’s nothing like a grill to transform vegetables into colorful delicacies. Red, green, and yellow peppers, eggplant, onion, and zucchini all taste delicious when grilled. Grilled veggies are so yummy — even the kids will be asking for seconds!

    Try a simple marinade of olive oil, a bit of acid like vinegar, good-quality salt, and crushed black pepper. Make your meal more visually appealing by picking up vegetable skewers to create vegetarian shish kebabs.

    You can even use vegetables to substitute for French fries, the burger’s best friend. Using either russet or sweet potato, slice length-wise and drizzle with the same marinade used for the grilled vegetables. Heat the potatoes in the oven at 425°F for 20 minutes, or until they reach your desired crispiness. Voila! Now you have a healthy alternative to the saturated fat in greasy French fries. 

  • Cut out the soda

    Cut out the soda

    Sugar-loaded carbonated beverages are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Try incorporating healthier drink choices into your meal.

    Provide water to keep everyone hydrated, and consider offering unsweetened iced tea. Try making your own fruit spritzers by mixing club soda or sparkling water with fresh fruit or a splash of juice.

  • Dessert on the grill

    Dessert on the grill

    At your next barbecue, trade a dessert of cookies, pie, cake, or ice cream for a tasty dessert loaded with vitamins and antioxidants: fresh-grilled fruit. Grilling fruit softens and sweetens it, giving it a lovely, caramelized flavor.   

    Halve peaches, plums, or apricots and brush the fruit lightly with olive oil before placing it on the grill. Or make fruit kebabs with whole strawberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, and apples in any combination you like.

  • Cut fat, savor flavor

    Cut fat, savor flavor

    Enjoy the delights of barbecue season — fun with family and friends, outdoor eating, and tasty grilled foods — without sacrificing a healthy diet. Cut out high-fat, high-calorie foods and introduce healthier choices.

    Load your grill with whole meats, like chicken and steak, a fresh cut of fish, and marinated veggies, and you’ll discover a new realm of mouth-watering flavors. By making a few adjustments to your menu, you can host a barbecue that is both delicious and nutritious.