Healthy You and Some BBQ
Summer is finally here and that typically means it is time to fire up that grill on a more regular basis. BBQ’s are notorious for creamy pasta/potato salads, desserts galore, chips in all shapes and sizes and of course…the BBQ sauce. These gatherings can be the perfect opportunity for a really unhealthy meal or a really healthy one. Like I always say, moderation is key and indulging once in awhile is you being human. But when the nice weather rolls around, people get excited and the BBQ gatherings begin to take over your calendar and then your diet. This is the perfect opportunity to show friends and family that BBQ’s can be tasty, healthy and fun all at the same time.
Let’s start with a fun true or false question. True or False: One serving of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce has as much sugar as a Snickers bar? True! Hard to believe that just a small couple tablespoons can pack so much sugar, not to mention normally people are using well over a serving as they put it on meats, baked potatoes or dipping French fries. When it comes to sauces, there are much healthier alternatives that hold just as much tasty flavor. First, try messing around with marinades. You can do many things with a good olive oil base and different spices. Feeling Italian? Throw in some rosemary, basil, thyme, crushed red pepper, dash of salt and soak your meat in a zip lock bag. Mexican calls for a kick with some paprika, chili powder, onion, and cayenne if you really like a spicy punch. The options are endless when it comes to making your own marinade and allows the meat to hold a juicy flavor. Now, if you are really into the BBQ sauce to make or break your meal, you have two options for a healthier alternative. The first one is easy, by just checking the labels. Most grocery stores have half an aisle dedicated to sauces, so on your next visit, take the time to check out the sugar content in other brands. Your second option is to get creative and make your own sauce. Personally, this is one of my favorite things to make as I naturally sweeten mine with pureed dates or honey. These sweetening agents also act as thickeners, which keeps you away from the artificial ingredients producers use to thicken the sauces. Making BBQ sauce in larger batches and canning them in mason jars for later is also great and the flavor gets sweeter as time goes on. They will hold in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, but can also be frozen and thawed for later use.
With all this delicious talk about sauces, we obviously need something to put them on: the meat! I know we have some vegetarians here, so don’t be afraid to whip up a good veggie burger with black beans and quinoa or grill vegetables. I will say, I am not a vegetarian, but me and my husband are obsessed with grilled zucchini at that moment. Our method: slice a zucchini in half vertically, drizzle with a little coconut oil and season with some cayenne and crushed pepper. Throw those puppies on the grill and your taste buds will thank you! Now for you carnivores, the meat portion of the meal is the perfect opportunity to keep it healthy. If burgers are on the menu, switch out the 80% hamburger for a leaner 93%. Instead of pork chops or pork shoulder, try pork tenderloin. Chicken is always a great alternative and if you want the healthiest option, switch out your chicken wings for chicken breast. I know you are waiting for me to get to the part of a healthy hot dog option. This is the part where being a nutritionist and living in a world of practicality comes to play. There is not much you can do for a “healthy hot dog”. Try to find ones that are nitrate free and if you check out natural health food stores, you can find buffalo dogs. If you plan to get real fancy, these buffalo dogs are AWESOME and acceptable to eat anytime. You can find them at your local Natural Grocers and some Whole Foods. http://www.thebuffaloguys.com/products/bison-hot-dogs/all-natural-buffalo-hot-dogs None of these meat options will leave you sacrificing flavor and will allow you to keep the grill master reputation.
Lastly, time to fill up the plate with side dishes. Bags of chips are really easy to grab, but then again, fruit and veggie trays are as well. There is nothing better than fresh cut watermelon or a bright colored fruit salad on a hot summer day. If you want those chips, finely slice some potatoes or sweet potatoes, drizzle them in olive/coconut oil, sprinkle some salt and pop them in the oven for a delicious homemade alternative. Don’t forget some salsa as the perfect healthy dip to go alongside them. Corn on the cob is always a crowd pleaser and can go on the grill right next to your meats, wrapped in foil. When it comes to making coleslaw, pasta or potato salad, substitute the mayonnaise for either Greek yogurt or mashed avocado. If you don’t say a word, I guarantee no one will ever notice; I have done it and the coleslaw was gone in 5 minutes! With sides like these, you do not have to feel bad about filling your plate to the rim and eating every single bite.
So, now you can go pack your calendars with BBQ’s and tailgates while not having to worry about another day of your diet falling off track. Sticking to a healthy lifestyle is not supposed to be a chore or keep you from engaging in social activities. It opens up opportunity to share with others that it is AboutTime to nutritiously BBQ for YOU!