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5 Tips for a Healthier BBQ

Summer may soon be coming to a close, but there is still plenty of time to spend outside at the grill. Whether you’re firing it up for a neighborhood get-together or simply getting your sizzle on solo, you should know these five tips to have a healthier barbeque.

1. Grill Vegetables!

From Organic Sweet Baby Broccoli to grilled Romaine Hearts, when vegetables take the grill, the result is so scrumptious.

In addition, when you eat grilled vegetables, you get a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. At the same time, you won’t get any nasty heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Say what? HCAs and PAHs are compounds that are produced when animal proteins are grilled over an open flame, and they have been linked with some cancers. Choose vegetables to be the feature item on the grill, or cut the fat and marinate your animal proteins to reduce the formation of these carcinogenic substances.

Here's how you can Grill Veggies Like a Pro!

2. Choose Quality Proteins.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (an agency of the World Health Organization) deemed processed meat, like bacon, ham, sausage, and hot dogs as “carcinogenic” to humans and red meat as “probably carcinogenic.” If you’re opting for animal-based proteins, consider choosing organic, grass fed, and lean protein like organic chicken, grass-fed beef, or wild salmon. Plant-based proteins on the grill, like lentils stuffed inside a red pepper or black bean and chickpea burgers, also serve as super plant-powered options.

3. Have Fun with Your Sides!

So long boring potato salad and bland pasta salad. Hello, healthy! Try grilling kale into “chips,” top your whole grain or gluten-free pasta with fresh parsley pesto, or grill a fennel bulb and drizzle with EVOO, lemon juice, and a sprinkle of organic Parmesan cheese.

4. Keep Tabs on Your Beverages.

Know that beverages (even diet beverages!) contribute to your overall eating choices – they’re not “empty calories” or “free” and shouldn’t be considered as such. If you choose to drink something other than water – and especially if you’re choosing an alcoholic beverage – choose water in between each drink, or infused water if you’re looking for extra flavor.

5. Be Mindful of Your Eating Choices.

It can be easy to perpetually snack at BBQ festivities, but if you truly aren’t hungry and are just eating to pass the time, those snacks can be a blunder to your healthy eating goals.Honor your hunger and eat when you need to, but skip the mindless snacking. After your meal, sip on water, crunch on non-starchy vegetables (like radishes or celery!), and enjoy non-food activities like talking with friends or being active.

Image of sweet baby broccoli on grill, raw meat, salad greens, pitcher of water, cricket mallet, ball and stakes for  5 tips for a healthier bbq infographic

Do you have questions about how you should healthfully BBQ? Let me help answer them for you! Or, share your successes! Tweet me @ToriHolthaus or drop me a message on Facebook @YESNutritionLLC.

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