Hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, pies. Sound familiar?
Barbecue season has begun, and for many of you, this means the typical summer fare – grilled, chilled and sugar-filled. A typical plate of BBQ food can weigh in at 1,500 calories, and that’s before you go back for seconds!
Yes, the old stand-bys are found conveniently packaged and ready to go at your local grocery store. But what happened to the days when barbeques and family get-togethers were a time to showcase your homemade recipes and favorite dishes? Remember? The ones prepared with love that conjure up conversation for weeks, “Did you try Sally’s homemade chicken salad?”
I know my brother would give his right arm for my mom’s traditional deviled eggs. A BBQ stand-by, but at least they are made at home, with love, and not loaded with a bunch of preservatives and hidden sugar.
At my house, we redeem the unhealthier, high-fat burgers by using ground buffalo. This is a much leaner option, and it further improved by serving it on a whole-wheat bun with natural ketchup. My son Max LOVES this, and I can rest assured he’s getting healthy food without compromising his traditional BBQ favorite.
Are you really too busy to cook, or do you just assume the old stand-bys are the ones that everyone wants? Perhaps both are true. Yet with some foresight and a little guidance, there are many healthful and tasty menu options you can prepare that are sure to please any palate.
What’s so great is that making BBQ fare healthier can be as easy as changing a couple of ingredients.
Consider these options:
Change-up the potato salad by mixing it with spicy or grain mustard to cut back on the mayo.
Use Agave Nectar in your homemade BBQ sauce rather than sugar. This is much sweeter than sugar so you need less, and still get that great sweet finish.
Choose turkey or chicken hot dogs over the traditional high-fat beef varieties.
If you are assigned the “dessert”, bring a beautiful fruit salad with kiwi, blueberries, strawberries, and melon balls. Add some yogurt sauce on the side – made simply by whipping vanilla yogurt until smooth. Add some sprigs of mint and you’ll be surprised how many people opt for this rather than the high-calorie brownies!
Make your pasta salad with olive oil rather than mayo, and use whole-wheat pasta instead of the traditional macaroni. 9 out of 10 guests will NEVER know the difference and will love the rich texture.
Opt for grilled chicken breasts, lean flank steak or shrimp rather than burgers and dogs. Kids will love this if given the chance…if the hot dogs are there, they’ll go for those. If not, and they’re hungry, they’ll eat what you’re serving. Give them the benefit of the doubt and try it on.
Grilled vegetables taste great and are an easy way to get your 5 – 7 servings of fruits and veggies. Why not skip the potato chips and eat some grilled eggplant or zucchini instead?
Choose pita bread and small tortillas rather than white burger buns. People will love the variation and appreciate less bread to go with their flavorful protein options.
Instead of greasy chips, bring a bowl of edamame sprinkled with sea salt, or popcorn lightly seasoned with sea salt and a touch of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
If you are in charge of the dip, skip the packaged onion or cheese varieties and choose hummus or Baba Ganoush – these too can be found at your store in case you don’t have time to prepare.
Click on the link below to check out fabulous new recipes to bring to your next barbecue.
In addition, high-sugar or high-alcohol beverages can also wreak havoc on your blood sugar and your waistline. If you don’t want to drink alcohol or soda at these events – yet want something more celebratory than water – you can always bring a flavored sparkling water like the ones from Canada Dry. We love the mandarin orange flavor.
If you do choose to drink alcohol remember that the body burns it just as it would a carbohydrate. So choose one beer or glass of wine, and skip the chips, cookies, pies and breads.
Let’s face it. Remember the last BBQ where you left thinking, “I really wish I hadn’t eaten that second hot dog, that brownie and the 3 beers.”
Why go there?
Wouldn’t you rather walk away saying, “Wow, that food was totally amazing and I don’t feel like I just gained 10 lbs.!”
Choose health. Be adventurous. Have fun.
Please feel free to email me your summer recipes to share with our online community – email@example.com. I’ll put them up on my website for everyone to enjoy!