Summer is the perfect season for eating healthier. Nature opens up her pantry, providing fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance. Holidays like the Fourth of July revolve around fireworks, not food.
However, your weekend backyard bash might not be the best for your heart or waistline. Luckily, you can clean it up with ease. Here are seven tips to make your summer barbecue healthier.
Grilling is one of the healthiest food preparation methods. However, you should avoid burning your meat and reduce health risks by adjusting your time and temperature for juicy perfection. Your reward is a low-fat cut since much of the grease will drain away between the slats.
Another way to keep your meat moist, not crispy, is marinating it for 20 minutes before grilling. This method allows the rich, salty umami tastes of soy sauce and fiery sriracha to penetrate the cut, imbuing it with flavor while keeping it moist during cooking. If you’re heading to the park or going camping, it’s OK to let your cuts soak in a plastic storage container while you travel — a little extra time only enhances the savoriness.
Many summer barbecue salads come laden with mayonnaise, including coleslaw and macaroni. This stuff is high in calories and fat — and leaving it to sit in the sun can cause it to go rancid, making you sick.
Instead, try lowering the fat and calorie content by using reduced-fat mayonnaise and dijon mustard for creamy flavor. Better yet, stick with recipes that call for olive oil as the primary binder. This heart-healthy oil contains oleic acid, which may reduce inflammation and lower your cardiovascular disease risks.
What else do you pair with your seared salmon and three-bean salad? Don’t think a greasy, salty bag of chips is your only alternative.
Instead, why not serve up some shelled nuts and seeds? These contain oodles of vital minerals like magnesium, selenium and zinc. These nutrients support positive mental health — in a study, one group of deficient patients recovered better from magnesium alone than from a tricyclic antidepressant.
Sprouted grains increase nutrient bioavailability. You ditch the pesky blood sugar spikes associated with the all-purpose stuff. Why not look for healthy buns and rolls made from ancient grains like amaranth?
Summer is the season for fresh fruit. There’s no need to laden yourself down with more fattening fare for a sweet end to your meal. Instead, serve a fruit salad with a side of whipped cream — you can find non-dairy versions if you practice a vegan lifestyle.
Many summer cocktails keep it light. For example, you can slash the calorie content of your vino and increase hydration levels by topping flavored seltzer with a splash of Moscato, creating a spritzer.
Are you making homemade lemonade or sun tea? Keep it sweet without the sugar swings. Monk fruit syrup is a natural calorie-free sweetener made from an Asian fruit that won’t impact your blood glucose.
Outdoor barbecues invite fun in the sun. Give your guests something to do besides sip brewskies by setting up a volleyball net. It won’t take much prompting for someone to pick up the ball and serve.
Keep your summer barbecue fun and healthy for the littles, too. You can create a cheap pool noodle obstacle course by visiting your nearest dollar store before your event.
All that fun in the sun can lead to heat-related illness if you aren’t careful. Learn the signs of heat exhaustion and stroke and immediately intervene if you notice someone struggling. Move them to a cool area and contact emergency services if necessary.
Ozone depletion means summer’s UV rays hit your skin harder than ever. Slather on the sunscreen and do the same for your kiddos. Also, be tick-safe. Wear long socks and shoes in the grass and inspect your littles when they come in from playing outside.
Summer is the perfect season for eating healthy. You’ll find fresh foods in season to delight any taste, and grilling reduces calories and fat. Make your next summer barbecue healthier by following the above tips. Enjoy fun in the sun while benefiting your overall well-being.
About the Author
Mia is a health and wellness writer and the Editor In Chief at Body + Mind. She specifically enjoys writing about women’s fitness, as well as mental health-related topics. When she’s not writing, Mia can usually be found reading poetry, taking a dance or cardio class, or hiking.