Backyard barbecues are a huge part of American life. While such cookouts can trace their genesis to Native American food preservation practices, their flavors and forms were later shaped by Black cooks in the South.
More recently, wartime and political campaigns all the way through to the 80s and 90s eventually transformed it as a way to gather family and friends to enjoy good food together no matter the season or occasion.
This nationwide love for grills and barbecues is even reflected in numbers. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, seven out of ten Americans own a grill.
To add, grilling is often touted as a healthier cooking method than frying due to less fat and calories. But its benefits for health improvement and weight management are better maximized when you make sure you have healthy eating habits, too.
As such, here are a few ways to make healthier and more nutritious choices without taking the fun out of grilling and barbecuing.
Choose Lean Meats
Meat is the highlight of barbecues, but you don’t have to limit yourself to popular choices like burgers and hotdogs. Rather, you can opt for lean meats and poultry, which proportionately have more proteins and less saturated fat than red and processed meats. This helps you cut back on excess calories while also reducing your risk of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
The best lean meat options include skinless chicken, beef and pork loin cuts, ground turkey, and white-fleshed fish. To illustrate the difference, a typical beef hotdog contains about 150 calories and 5 grams of fat, while grilled chicken breast of roughly the same weight only has 73 calories and 0.4 grams of fat.
Balance Taste and Nutrition
Nutrition is probably the last thing on your mind once the meat is on the grill. But there’s a way to ensure that you eat well and healthy all at once.
In fact, if you’re trying to watch your weight, you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice fun and flavorful barbecues as long as you’re strategic about your use of ingredients and seasonings. When cooking for weight loss, registered dietitian Roxana Ehsani recommends swapping ingredients for healthier alternatives. For example, instead of using processed powders, pineapple juice works as a natural and refreshing meat tenderizer while also providing additional fiber and nutrients to your barbecues.
You can also fit in as many vegetables and mushrooms as you want by threading them together with lean meat and creating deliciously colorful kebabs. Lastly, punching up the flavor of your meat with citrus juice, balsamic vinegar, and fresh herbs and spices like cumin and oregano can help you avoid relying on excess salt and fat for seasoning.
Choose Healthier Sides and Sauces
Healthier eating habits also extend to your choice of side dishes and sauces. You can hence swap the store-bought coleslaw or potato salad for healthy homemade BBQ sides. Enoki mushrooms grilled in soy sauce and vegetable oil are a sure hit for meat lovers and veggie fans alike, while grilled corn and zucchini salad with feta cheese can easily elevate the otherwise gentle flavor of zucchini.
It’s also tempting to overindulge and drizzle more BBQ sauce than you need, thus increasing your sugar consumption and overall risk for diabetes. But trying out sugar-free BBQ sauce recipes on your own can help you stay healthy and in control of your sugar levels without having to sacrifice flavor. You can go classic with the smoky and sweet taste of hickory BBQ sauce, or try using tomato and mango for an added tang to your sauce.
Ultimately, eating barbecue can be an equally tasty and healthy experience – as long as you choose lean meat options, nutritious sides and sauces, and moderate portion sizes. To better take care of your health and safety, also consider the type of cooking equipment that you use.
Healthy Grill Recipes for Fat Loss
Grilling is a great way to cook healthy and flavorful meals that can aid in fat loss. Here are a few healthy grill recipes that can help you achieve your weight loss goals:
Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary: Marinate chicken breasts in a mixture of lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil for at least 30 minutes. Grill the chicken over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Serve with a side salad or grilled vegetables.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers: Thread shrimp onto skewers, alternating with slices of bell pepper, zucchini, and red onion. Brush with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, and grill over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with a side of quinoa or brown rice.
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger: Marinate portobello mushroom caps in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, garlic, and olive oil for at least 30 minutes. Grill the mushrooms over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes per side, or until tender. Serve on a whole-grain bun with sliced avocado, tomato, and red onion.
Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa: Rub salmon fillets with a mixture of chili powder, cumin, and paprika, and grill over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Serve with a side of mango salsa made with diced mango, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice.
Remember to include plenty of vegetables and whole grains in your meals, and limit high-calorie sauces and toppings to keep your grill recipes healthy and supportive of your fat loss goals.
Good Eats Grilling
Grilling is a popular and delicious way to cook food, especially during the warm summer months. Here are some tips for achieving good eats when grilling:
Preheat the grill: It’s important to preheat the grill before cooking to ensure that the temperature is even and the food cooks evenly.
Clean the grill: Before you start grilling, make sure to clean the grill grates with a grill brush or scraper to remove any leftover food particles or debris.
Oil the grates: To prevent food from sticking to the grates, lightly oil them with cooking spray or a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil.
Season the food: Rub your meats or vegetables with a seasoning blend or marinade before grilling to add flavor and enhance the taste.
Use the right temperature: Different foods require different cooking temperatures. For example, the chicken should be cooked at 165°F, while beef can be cooked to medium rare at 135°F. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your food is cooked to the proper temperature.
Monitor the food: Keep an eye on the food while it’s cooking and flip it at the appropriate time to ensure it cooks evenly on both sides.
Let it rest: After grilling, let the food rest for a few minutes before slicing it. This allows the juices to distribute evenly throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful dish.
With these tips, you can create delicious and memorable meals on the grill. Happy grilling!
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