Here are five tips for a nutritious summer cookout.
Summer is a season of celebrations and delicious food. You can dine on the delectable treats that are at their freshest this time of year. It’s also the perfect time to improve your overall nutritional intake – and it’s a snap to make doing so painless.
The next time you host a festive backyard barbecue, focus on nourishing your guests as much as delighting their palates. Now’s the time to show off your culinary wizardry!
1. Lean Your Burger Recipe
Few things make hungry mouths water like the savory aroma of burgers on the grill. You want yours to be the biggest and juiciest with the perfect char. However, opting for ordinary ground beef can set you back nearly a full day’s worth of calories and clog your arteries with tons of saturated fat.
Why not seek recipes that are every bit as delicious, for a fraction of the belt-busting stuff? For example, switching to lean ground beef can cut the fat content in half while reducing calories. Better yet, why not opt for an alternative to red meat?
Salmon burgers are rich in omega-3 fatty acids to decrease inflammation while slashing your heart disease risk, and you can find a world of veggie burger alternatives. If you don’t like the fake meats on the market, consider inventing a recipe with black beans, portabello mushrooms, or hemp seeds – or all three.
2. Include Plenty of Sensational Summer Salads
Your local farmer’s market should become your second-favorite place this summer outside of your backyard garden. It’s bursting with organic produce that you can transform into ambrosial salads that delight everyone at your cookout.
For example, why not add a sunny twist to the traditional caesar salad? For example, a kale version with cucumbers, leeks, and cherry tomatoes lets you put your farmer’s market finds on proud display for everyone to see – and taste. Alternatively, make a pasta caesar salad alternative using noodles made with lentil and quinoa pasta.
What about everyone’s favorite tuber – the potato? Traditional cookout potato salad is laden with mayonnaise, which adds to the calorie count. However, you can make yours lean by opting for a German version that substitutes mustard. Adding plenty of other veggies, like celery and peas, makes this dish even friendlier for folks watching their waistlines.
Have you tried elote? This Mexican street corn is a huge hit in the southwest, although people in other parts of the country could miss out. Not to fear – you can learn how to make a salad version that adds red pepper and onion for a healthy phytonutrient burst and impressive flavor.
Finally, you can’t forget the fruit. Why not whip up an ambrosia salad with the blueberries, grapes, and bananas you picked up at the farmer’s market? You can make a dairy-free vegan version by substituting coconut cream for Cool Whip.
3. Work Your Herb Garden
Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only things in season during the summer. Your garden is probably bursting with fresh herbs, too! Use it to bring your summer cookout to life while adding valuable nutrients.
For example, basil contains vitamin C for immune function and iron for red blood cell creation. Thyme contains thymol, which may help with pain from bug bites, a common summer affliction. It even adds a bit of fiber to your diet. Parsley may look like a disposable garnish, but it’s high in vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting.
Herbs can also transform the flavor of your summer barbecue. Are you making chicken or shrimp on the barbie? Wrap it in foil and add lemon juice and herbs to infuse your dishes with savoriness.
4. Think Whole, Healthy Grains
Summer means pasta salad – but the white flour found in many noodles isn’t doing you any favors. The manufacturing process creates a chemical byproduct called alloxan, which scientists use to destroy the insulin-producing pancreas of lab animals. Furthermore, it absorbs quickly into your bloodstream, causing glucose spikes. The two together are a recipe for diabetes.
Instead, opt for pasta made from alternative flours. You’ll find those made from ancient grains, like quinoa and amaranth, have higher protein contents, which is helpful if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Chickpea or garbanzo bean flour is another option that’s high in protein. Such options keep you feeling fuller for longer and are far more beneficial to your overall health.
5. Get Fruity With Dessert
The freshness doesn’t stop with the main course. You can also bring that goodness and nutrition to your summer cookout dessert table.
You don’t need to heat the oven or even get out a mixer to assemble a strawberry icebox cake. All you have to do is put it together the day before and let the refrigerator do the magic overnight. Although the recipe calls for regular whipped cream, you can substitute a vegan version.
Did you know that you can grill fruit? It begins caramelizing the sugars within, making them taste even sweeter. The trick is to place them on a stick, kebab-style. You can serve them plain or with a side of strawberry whipped cream dipping sauce.
Tips for a Nutritious Summer Cookout
Summer is the perfect season for gathering with family and friends to share a meal. It’s also peak time for getting foods at their freshest. Why not delight your guests with flavor while helping them stay healthy? Follow the five tips above for a nutritious summer cookout!