My 7 Favorite Healthy BBQ Upgrades - Culinary Therapy

My 7 Favorite Healthy BBQ Upgrades

Like so many families right now, school is or has almost finished for the summer and we are in the process of transitioning to a more relaxed schedule. The change in schedule naturally changes the food dynamic in my family. We spend more time in the kitchen together and enjoy visiting local farmer’s markets where the girls like to pick out their own fresh foods.

It’s my favorite time of year to shop for groceries – the farmer’s markets are brimming with local, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. It’s also a time of year I hear from past and present clients, wondering about how to enjoy traditional American summer traditions, the picnics and barbecues, without compromising a healthier diet.

Here’s a list of 7 ways you can upgrade your barbecue without depriving your family of this quintessential summer gathering:

1.  Use marinades, especially ones with an olive oil or citrus base. When food, especially meat, comes in contact with intense heat, toxic chemicals are released that are KNOWN to be cancer-forming.  Marinades will dramatically reduce (close to a 99% reduction) the formation of these chemicals on your food.

2.  Do not overcook, or burn, foods. The charred portion of foods contains the most of these cancer-forming chemicals. Cut them off before serving.

3.  Choose leaner meats. There are a lot of great substitutions for the standard American burger. Try turkey burgers, bean burgers, or portobello mushroom burgers. Or, skip the burger and offer grilled chicken or beans instead. Here’s a summer favorite, my go-to for barbecues, potlucks, and parties:
Black Eyed Pea Salad

4.  Pay attention to the side dishes. Instead of macaroni salad, try a roasted potato salad with olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt. Prepare a large green salad, tomato salad, and grilled vegetables. Skewers are always fun. Nadia, my youngest, will eat anything on a skewer… even what she won’t eat on a plate.

5.  Update your bread. Switching from white to whole grain buns is an option, adding some extra fiber to your meal. Or, forego the bun altogether and opt for a gluten-free whole grain side dish instead.

6.  Fruit is great. Instead of multiple desserts, offer a large fruit salad with one dessert on the side.

Your Simple Action Plan:

It’s tempting to forego healthy eating habits during the summer. Rather than give up on your entire healthy eating plan, upgrade traditional family gatherings with just one or two healthy options that feel do-able. Small shifts in how you navigate social gatherings will reward you with a happier belly.


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