It is okay to indulge occasionally— to enjoy a sizzling steak, some saucy ribs or a juicy burger. However, when grilling becomes more than an occasional event, it is important to keep healthy eating in mind.
Fire Up the Grill!
There’s something about a hot summer day that screams BBQ! It is a fabulous way to enjoy the great outdoors and fresh food with friends or family. Typically we think of a BBQ for long weekends or summer holidays at the lake. But barbecues are no longer just for special occasions, and have moved beyond the basic burger. Grilling is a quick and easy way to prepare a meal that cleans up in a snap. This makes a barbecue just the thing for a busy weekday summer meal, although many Albertans love to grill year- round, too.
5 Tips for a Healthy Barbecue
Start with lots of fresh vegetables
Plan your meal around lots of fresh seasonal vegetables. They are nutrient rich, and add colour and flavour. Fill half your plate with grilled vegetables—zucchini, asparagus, corn on the cob, bell peppers, onions and mushrooms are particularly good for grilling and are simple to prepare. Almost any vegetable can be grilled with just a little bit of oil and some herbs and spices. Try this tasty recipe for herbed dipping sauce from Dairy Farmers of Canada.
Fresh salads are another way to include vegetables in your meal, whether as a side dish or the main course. Pack in the nutrients by using ingredients with lots of colour such as romaine lettuce, spinach, bell peppers, tomatoes, red onion, carrots and radishes. For a main course, top salad with a small portion of grilled chicken breast or fish.
Monitor your meat portions
Cut back on the portion size of your meat choice. One serving of meat according to Canada’s Food Guide is 75 grams or 2 ½ ounces of cooked meat (about an average size palm of the hand). Two to three servings of meat and alternatives are recommended each day, depending on age and gender. That means the portion size could be 150–225 grams or 5–7 ounces of cooked meat, depending on how much other meat you had during the day. A great way to reduce portion size is to cut meat into bite-size pieces and grill on a skewer.
Alberta Milk registered dietitian Colinda Hunter says, “If your portions are a reasonable size, you can enjoy what you want to eat, and eat healthfully at the same time.”
Round out the meal with whole grains
A great complement to your grilled meat and vegetables is whole grains. Round out your meal by filling one-quarter of your plate with whole grains . Wild rice, quinoa and barley are unique options to try. If you are having burgers or hot dogs, opt for whole wheat buns. French breads and baguettes are also available in whole wheat.
Try fresh fruit for a nice light dessert.
Have you ever grilled fresh fruit? Pineapple, mangos, bananas, kiwis, strawberries, peaches and apples can be cut into bite-size pieces, put on a skewer and grilled for just a few minutes on each side. Go ahead; try this recipe for fruit kebabs with tangy lemon yogurt sauce! Delicious!
Remember the milk products
Milk consumption usually drops during the summer months. To ensure you don’t miss out on important bone health nutrients , include milk products in your barbecue menu. Cheese is a nice complement to chicken, or any burger, and can also be incorporated into a salad. For variety, switch up your usual cheese with some Monterey Jack, blue cheese or Provolone. Yogurt fits too; it makes a nice sauce, dip or marinade. Mix up this simple herbed yogurt sauce, or this classic tzatziki dip for your next barbecue. Plus, you can always enjoy a refreshing glass of cold milk with any meal.
Grilling is quick and easy. With just a few small changes to your usual menu, it can be healthy, too. Fire up the grill and enjoy!
Article posted on August 9, 2011