After a long cold winter, summertime is finally in full swing. The sun shines bright above us, kids are out of school, and families and friends are excited to get together for outdoor events and BBQs. What comes to mind when you think of summer BBQ? The first thing people think of are hamburgers, cheeseburgers, ribs, chicken and hot dogs on the grill. But how about we change things up a bit this summer? Traditional American BBQ foods are usually focused on meat with accompanying side dishes containing mayonnaise and dressings. These dishes can be high in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. When these nutrients are eaten in abundance, they contribute to weight gain, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol levels. Through time, these foods can put us at risk of getting heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Let’s consider a BBQ make over, try having the meal focus on all the great local produce available throughout the summer. Not only are these foods delicious, eating more fruits, vegetables and grains will help you towards losing weight, and lowering bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol, improving your blood pressure and preventing diabetes. Incorporating more foods from the Spinney Hill Farmers Market will help you towards living a healthier life. So, consider trying some swaps:
Swap potato chips for kale chips:
Make your very own kale chips by taking washed and dried kale, removing the stems from the leaves and spreading them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Evenly spray the kale with olive oil spray and bake in a very low heat (275 F) closed barbecue for about 20 minutes. Bake until crispy and brown and top with your favorite seasonings.
Swap hamburgers for portobello mushrooms: Portobellos are large and meaty mushrooms that can pass for a juicy burger any day. You can marinade them in some extra virgin olive oil, garlic and parsley and throw them straight on the grill to sizzle away. Place your portobello burger between a whole wheat bun and top with some low fat cheese, lettuce, onion and tomato.
Swap sugary sodas and juices for water filled with summer fruits:
Fill a clear pitcher with ice water and slice up your favorite fruits to create your very own fruit infused water. This drink is crisp and refreshing and will keep you hydrated in the summer heat.
Swap s’mores for grilled peaches topped with frozen yogurt and toasted pecans:
Peaches are in season at the market! Halve some peaches and brush the open ends with canola oil. Place them on the grill (open side down) to get some grill marks and plate the peaches with a scoop of frozen yogurt and toasted pecans for a dessert containing fiber, calcium, and protein.
These healthy swaps will make you want to ask for seconds. Try coming up with your own plant based swaps for your summer BBQ and enjoy a party that is not only fun, but good for your body too!