Having a healthy barbecue does not mean getting rid of everything you enjoy. Small changes can make a big difference. For example, having fat-free or reduced fat versions of cheeses, mayonnaise, and spreads can help in the battle of the bulge. When making burgers, try having veggie burgers or lean turkey burgers available for your guests. There are several brands out there - just make sure you read the labels. The best burger patties can be the ones you make yourself. Purchase minced beef that is no more than 95 percent lean to cut fat and maintain moisture for tasty burgers. Making your own patties can be healthy and cost-effective; try adding beans or veggies such as mushrooms, zucchini, or carrots. This not only adds fiber and protein to your burgers, but also allows you to make more (which can come in handy when your guests bring unexpected extra mouths to feed). Marlene Carneiro, Outpatient Dietician at Lawrence Hospital, encourages incorporating vegetables into your barbecue.
“Take advantage of the summer’s seasonal fruits and vegetables,” Carneiro said. “They are full of nutrients and flavor and can be purchased at low prices. Be creative and add fruits and veggies to your meals and snacks they’re all natural and delicious!” “In August, Cantaloupes are at their peak. Being naturally high in water makes them great for cooling off and re-hydrating in the summer heat.”
The extra veggies can reduce the number of calories you take in. Try grilling them or adding them to kebabs.
Of course with all this healthy food comes the concern about taste: after all, no one goes to a barbecue to eat bird food. “Healthy doesn’t have to mean bland,” Carneiro added. “Try using herbs, spices and dry rubs, also grilling fruits can add great flavor to your meals.” Desserts can be tricky, but fresh fruit is always a great alternative. Try freezing bananas and dipping them in dark chocolate for a quick, and easy treat.
Healthy barbecue is not only what you eat, but in the preparation. Food should be kept chilled until it’s time to be served or prepared. Always avoid cross contamination, especially when using cutting boards for meats and veggies. Lastly, it may seem safe to char food to avoid salmonella poisoning, but according to the National Cancer Institute, charred meats have a higher concentration of HCA (Heterocyclic amines) which have been found to be carcinogenic in animals and a potential threat to humans.
Barbecues should be enjoyable for all who attend. Sanjeeta Ahuja, Director of Nutrition Services at Mt. Vernon Neighborhood Health Center, believes that moderation makes a big difference. “Just because a barbecue is four hours doesn’t mean you need to eat the entire time you are there,” said Ahuja. “A barbecue is not a food marathon. Make sure you keep hydrated with water, and control your portions.” Ahuja also encourages people to shop smart and prepare a menu beforehand: “Planning can also be helpful as everyone can participate in preparing a dish for the family function.”
If you make a few changes to your menu and follow these tips, you are sure to avoid bursting out of your bikini. Read below for a few fat-busting recipes.
Using a high flavor-rub (a mixture you rub on meat before grilling) can add a punch of flavor with out all the salt. Try this high-flavor rub on skinless chicken breasts, fish steaks, pork tenderloin, or lean beef steaks. Rub some of the spicy mixture on food and cook like usual.
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients;
Store in a cool, dry place, in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag.
SPICY DRY RUB:
1/4 c. paprika
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. oregano
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. red pepper
3 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried thyme
For a healthy, low-fat alternative from the usual beef burgers, try these tasty and flavor packed herb chicken burgers. Serve with a salad to make this a really healthy treat!
Herb Chicken Burgers
* 1 pound lean ground chicken
* 1 sweet onion, chopped
* 2 garlic gloves, minced
* 1/4 cup of mixed fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, chives)
* 1 large egg, beaten
* 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
* salt and black pepper to taste
1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil grate.
2. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, sweet onion, garlic and fresh herbs. Add the egg, bread crumbs and seasonings to taste. Mix all together well and form into 4 patties.
3. Grill over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until no longer pink. (Internal temperature should be 165 degrees F)
Note: You can grill, broil or pan-fry these burgers.