A version of this article originally appeared in Village Living Magazine, where Kate regularly contributes articles about health, wellness and holistic living.
I think you’ll agree, barbecues are one of the best things about summer. Full of food, fun and fond memories; no sunny weekend is complete without a little time spent outside cooking in the great outdoors.
But like all good things, a delicious barbecue spread comes with it’s own health pitfalls. Rather than falling prey to these, follow the simple tips below and enjoy a healthy, energetic and happy summer.
When you think BBQ salads, what springs to mind? Creamy coleslaw and potato or pasta salad smothered in mayonnaise dressing are classic favourites.
These carbohydrate-rich sides are not only full of hydrogenated fats, they can also include additives and preservatives, and will leave you feeling bloated, tired and uncomfortable.
Instead, opt for a fresh green salad with a rainbow of add-ons. Choose a light dressing like a home-made balsamic vinaigrette and let your creative juices flow. With abundant amounts of fresh produce available during the summer months, try adding chopped radishes, berries, grated candy cane beets, sugar snap peas and purple cabbage to give your salad gorgeous eye appeal and delicious flavour.
Try my Healthy Waldorf Salad for a main or side that’s sure to please.
When it comes to what goes on the grill, many people turn to packaged and processed foods like frozen hamburgers and hotdogs.
These meats are full of additives, artificial colours, nitrites, nitrates, corn syrup, maltodextrin, ammonia and more. Food-like substances that have been linked to everything from anxiety, depression, hyperactivity in children, intestinal disorders, cancers and the list goes on.
The average person eats approximately 50 hotdogs per year. Yikes!
So rather than exposing yourself and your family to these toxins on a beautiful sunny afternoon, opt for making your own burgers. You’ll be amazed at how easy, delicious and satisfying making your own burgers can be. Add your own flavour enhancers like diced red onion, fresh herbs, capers, feta, and roasted red peppers.
And don’t discount the power of grilled veggies. Portobello mushrooms, red peppers, corn, asparagus and many more; make for delicious alternatives or additions to your meat dishes.
No discussion about healthy barbecuing is completely without condiments. Ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, mustard, relish, all make up the holy grail of barbecue toppings.
Try reading the label on any commercial condiment product and you’ll find anything from high fructose corn starch, to food dyes yellow #5, blue #1 and red #2, to genetically modified canola and soy bean oil, and the list goes on.
These colourful condiments hold their own dark secrets.
These are not substances that anyone should ingest, ever, period. The good news is that it is easy to find healthy alternatives these days. Even more fun, make your own.
When it comes to making everyone’s number one favourite, ketchup, try substituting coconut sugar, raw honey or maple syrup with a splash of apple cider vinegar for an all-natural sweet and tart tomato sauce.
And for something a little bit fancier, try my favourite cherry barbecue sauce and marinade. It’s perfect for chicken and goes fantastically with pork and beef.
Kate’s Classic Cherry Barbecue Sauce
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 cup strained tomatoes
1 cup pitted sweet dark cherries, coarsely chopped (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and partially cover. Simmer until the cherries are soft, about 30 minutes.
- Carefully pour the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth.
- Enjoy with your favourite meats like chicken, pork, salmon or beef. Or as a marinade for juicy portobello mushrooms.
Looking got more healthy tips, recipes and meal plans? Be sure to take a look at the Slim Down Detox program, a wholefood-based detox to help you feel your best.