5 Ways To Make Your BBQ Dinners Healthier

Make your bbq dinners healthier this summer (Photo credit: Joroma/Shutterstock)
Make your bbq dinners healthier this summer (Photo credit: Joroma/Shutterstock)

Anxious to dust off the BBQ with the warm weather finally here? Summer is synonomous with delicous grilled foods fresh off the BBQ for many of us, but how and what you’re serving at your BBQs could be hurting your health. Some simple ways to makeover your grilling menu this season to make it better for you.

Aim for delicious but not charred or well-done food. While some of us adore that charbroiled flavour, cooking at this high heat to the point of being charred can lead to the development of carcinogens (when the fat drips and creates smoke, that carcinogen-rich smoke coats the food). There’s also another type of carcinogen that develops when cook meat over a high heat (the temp causes a chemical reaction in the meat, which leads to the development of the carcinogen, known as HCA). If your fave is charred and well-done, work on adjusting your tastebuds to uncharred meat that is not well-done (but, of course, cook it so that it’s cooked enough to eliminate bacteria such as E. coli); lower the heat a bit, and take it off the grill a few minutes sooner than you would’ve before, for example.

Choose leaner protein. BBQ faves include some fatty foods, such as burgers and chicken wings. Try to include more fish in your BBQing this season for a lighter but just as tasty protein on those hot summer nights. Break the grilled fish into chunks and tuck into a corn tortilla with some salsa for a delicious homemade fish taco.

Swap ice cream for fresh fruit. If ice cream is your go-to dessert night after night, you’re going to  notice your chinos fitting snugger before Labour Day rolls around. With such an abundance of fresh local fruit available at farmer’s markets, chop some up for a fruit salad, or make fruit kabobs and grill those to bring out the natural sugars. (If you really want something creamy for dessert, throw some grilled chopped pineapple on top of some Greek yogurt.)

Clean your grill regularly. if there are remnants of previous BBQs to be found on your grill, it’s time to put in some elbow grease. When you let residue build up on the grill, this can lead to carcinogens being transferred to the foods you cook on it. Also, you can prevent food from sticking (and old, charred bits from sticking to your food) by oiling your grill before you get cooking.

Add flavour with homemade marinades. Use herbs and spices and basics in your pantry such as soy sauce and oil to marinate your proteins to infuse them with loads of fresh flavour rather than loading them up with mayo, tartar sauces and sauces full of preservatives. Pickeled and grilled veggies are another fantastic way to add a healthy oomph to your sandwiches in place of heavy dressings.

 

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan

Karen Kwan is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Flare, Elle Canada and ElleCanada.com, Glow, Metro, Huffington Post Canada, Travelife and Travel + Escape. She also runs her blog, HealthandSwellness.com, where she writes about health, beauty, fitness and lifestyle.

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