Summer barbecues are the highlight of the season, whether you’re throwing one in your backyard or attending one of dozens that will happen in your community over the warm months. While barbecues often feature fattening and starchy selections, they don’t have to. This year, show your friends and family just how delicious a health-conscious barbecue can be.
The first place to start is the beverages. While the adult beverages and pop may flow, make a health-friendly alternative for you and your fellow light-and-right meal planners with some amazing sparkling lemonade. Use a low sugar lemonade recipe and throw in a cup or two of your favorite sliced fresh fruit for flavor. Slowly add soda water down the edge of the pitcher and stir to mix.
Burgers are known for their fat content, and the summer always takes our red meat consumption through the roof. Instead of loading up your cooler with nothing but burger patties, create something even more tempting than a big slab of beef: a fresh salmon burger. Mix diced raw salmon fillet with an egg white, fresh basil, salt, and pepper and form into patties then throw them right on the grill with everything else. Experiment with condiments to find out what you enjoy the most.
Not every slab of meat on the grill has to be unhealthy. Picking lean cuts can free you to enjoy that wonderful taste of freshly grilled meat hot and rare off the fire. There’s nothing like a beautiful sear on a deliciously thin rib-eye steak or a succulent cut of lean pork chop to make summer come alive in your mouth. Experimenting with glazes and sauces to sear over an open flame is part of the fun of summer and with the right cuts of meat, you can grill every night without busting your diet.
Corn bread can be made any way you want to combine and bake your cornmeal, meaning there are healthy ways to make it and very unhealthy ways to make it. Normal cornbread is loaded with oil and butter, but in your oven, you have the freedom to make delicious cornbread without the extra fat. Try replacing the butter and oil with plain nonfat yogurt and two large beaten eggs. If you like chunky cornbread, add whole corn and colorful diced summer vegetables to the mix.
Chili is among the greatest things about summer barbecues because it, too, can be made in so many ways. Every culture, or even every family, has their own unique way to make chili, but not all of them are healthy. For a light summer chili, stick with all your favorite vegetables, herbs, and spices, but replace anything fatty with leaner options. Add less oil and use nearly 100% lean meats instead of the usual beef chuck that goes into a pot of chili. You could even make turkey chili and see if anyone even notices the difference.
As for dessert at your sneakily healthy classic barbecue, nothing is better than a beautiful bowl of summer fruit salad. Strawberries, pineapple, grapes, and melon are the core ingredients but you can add slices and chopped pieces of almost anything you like. Bring it together with a mix of lemon juice and lightly sugared water and this time, skip the marshmallows. Adding a light sprinkle of feta cheese can create an interesting tang and a weight to the salad that can even make this dish a main course for your guests with an overwhelming sweet tooth.
The summer barbecue is when friends and family come together to share traditional dishes that are fresh grilled or freshly chilled. Show off your cooking skills by throwing a lean summer barbecue that everyone in the neighborhood will love. Salmon burgers, light cuts of meat, and delicious side dishes are the key to a wonderful summer afternoon that will quickly become an all-night event throughout the warm summer evening.
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