It wouldn’t be summer without the heat and the thrill of the grill. But not everything we cook fits in with the concept of healthy eating. In fact, many aspects of grilling can be downright ugly. Why not make this summer more beautiful by making healthy choices before you turn up the heat. Here are five BBQ tips to do just that.
Grilling is great, but the high heat can cause charring and the formation of cancer causing compounds called HCA’s (heterocyclic amines). A 2011 study found that when rosemary or turmeric was added to hamburger meat, the total HCA’s decreased. Not only will these spices spruce up your meal, they’ll also add valuable antioxidants that can help to thwart cancer and may also help in reducing the aches and pains you acquired during your marathon gardening session, according to a study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Be beautiful between the bun
While red meat in the form of burgers, steaks and ribs often takes center stage on the grill, rethinking your burger options can open up a much healthier between-the-bun world. Instead of a saturated fat-laden red meat burger, hot dog or rib, consider alternate burger options. Wild salmon, lentils, portabella mushrooms, and even tofu are perfect when formed into burgers and grilled. Pair them with grilled onions on a 100 percent whole grain bun—and you’ve got the ultimate healthy fast food!
Savior all of your sides—grilled
Your entire dinner can be cooked on the grill if you’re using the right sides. Instead of French fries or potato salad, grill polenta. Instead of big burger buns, you can grill corn tortillas. Another idea is to make your plate as colorfully beautiful as possible with grilled zucchini, onions, squash, tomatoes and other vegetables that meet your fancy.
Grill your dessert
While most people equate summer with ice cream, the grill can cook up an entire host of healthy dessert options that are just as delicious and way more nutritious. Make kebobs with pineapple, pears, nectarines, strawberries or even watermelon. They’re tasty on their own, but if you want a dessert bonus, you can melt 70 percent dark chocolate and have on hand for dipping your grilled fruit kebobs. Yum!
Be smart about sauce
Be choosy when it comes to your sauce. Whether it’s the marinade you use for your vegetables or the sauce your slather on your burger, be aware that traditional BBQ sauces are chock full of sugar—usually, it’s the first or second ingredient. Instead, marinade in spices and healthy oil and vinegar blends. You can get creative by choosing aromatic oils and fun balsamic vinegars—think garlic or basil olive oil and violet and blood orange vinegars.
Summer won’t be here forever, so heat up the coals and start enjoying foods that are a boon to your health and beauty.