Though I’m definitely an advocate for establishing some sort of summer schedule, there’s nothing quite like those long, lazy summer nights. The kids running around while you put your feet up, the smell of a delicious healthy BBQ cooking on the grill… ahhh, what could be better?!
Well, it turns out there are ways to make those summer barbecues a little bit better—by making them even healthier. In this post you’ll find my top healthy BBQ ideas.
Healthy BBQ Tip #1: Use Organic Charcoal
Unlike the charcoal you use for making your teeth white, the standard charcoal used for grilling almost always includes chemicals and nitrates like anthracite coal, treated wood or sawdust, petroleum, sodium nitrate, and borax. That is NOT what you want cooking into your food! To avoid exposure to these yucky additives, choose a natural charcoal.
Healthy BBQ Tip #2: Never Clean the Grill With a Wire Brush
Wire brushes are great for getting rid of stuck-on food, but they can be very dangerous. Little pieces of wire from the brush can break off and get stuck in your food. If you ingest these little pieces of metal, it can cause a medical emergency. And it’s not as rare as you might think. Try a heavy-duty sponge, a brush made of natural fibres, or a wooden scraper instead.
Healthy BBQ Tip #3: Swap Processed Meats for Clean Proteins
There are so many reasons to skip hot dogs—they are full of nitrates and have been linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes and just one hot dog has a quarter of the maximum daily recommendation for sodium! If you’re serving hamburgers, make sure to use grass-fed beef. However, to shake up your healthy BBQ, the best choices are low mercury fish (salmon, trout, and mackerel are all great options!) and marinated chicken breast and turkey burgers are always a nice change of pace!
Healthy BBQ Tip #4: Marinate Your Food
Try these delicious marinades:
Healthy BBQ Tip #5: Flip Frequently
A study published in the Journal of Food Protection found that flipping burgers every 30 seconds was most effective in reducing E. coli. Another study found that, when combined with low-heat cooking, frequent flipping also reduced the level of carcinogens in food. Though these studies were specific to burgers, it may be worth cooking other meat this way, too.
Healthy BBQ Tip #6: Use Better Buns
Wrap burgers or grilled chicken in Swiss chard to up your intake of vitamins K, A, and C, magnesium, potassium, iron, and fibre. Kale, green cabbage, and lettuce are other great options. If the bun is your favourite part, you can still have a healthy BBQ by using wholegrain buns.
Healthy BBQ Tip #7: Make Your Own Condiments
Most store-bought condiments, like barbecue sauce and ketchup, are loaded with added sugar and yucky preservatives. Your best bet is to make your own. Try these homemade recipes for a healthy BBQ:
Healthy BBQ Tip #8: Opt for Healthier Sides
Conventional potato salad, macaroni salad, and mayo-based coleslaw all have one thing in common: They’re full of bad oils and sugars. But skipping out on these heavy options don’t have to mean sacrificing taste. Instead try foods that are just as flavorful, but way healthier. Try these recipes for a healthy BBQ instead:
- Instead of traditional potato salad, try Green Bean, Potato, and Tarragon Salad
- Instead of creamy coleslaw, try Summer Coleslaw
- Instead of pasta salad, try Greek Style Black Bean Pasta Salad
If you’re serving any dips with your meal, swap chips for raw veggies — they provide the same crunch, but don’t have any of the preservatives, fat, or extra calories.
Healthy BBQ Tip #9: Grill Dessert
Skipping cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and other sweat treats doesn’t have to leave you wanting more. Once the main course is finished, try grilling pineapple or stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, and plums). YUM!