5 Keys to a Healthy, Happy BBQ Season

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What cooking style would you most likely associate with outdoor, festive celebrations? BBQ of course! The National Barbecue Association designates each May to celebrate all things BBQ with National Barbecue Month, encouraging us all to enjoy the flavor, fun and family ties of good barbecue in our own unique ways.

For many of us, one of the highlights of warm weather is grilling and eating outdoors. Food cooked on an outdoor grill has a unique, smoky flavor, and the BBQ method can actually be one of the healthiest ways to cook. Grilled foods tend to be far lower in fat than sautéed or fried foods─depending on what you put on them, of course. Consider these ideas for your most enjoyable BBQ season yet:

Go lean and mean

When it comes to what you’ll grill, how about swapping out the same old hamburgers and hot dogs for more versatile─not to mention healthier─fare like poultry, seafood and lean meats. If you really like steak, opt for top sirloin over Porterhouse and cut your saturated fat in half. When grilling chicken, remove the fatty skin. Don’t worry, you’ll retain plenty of moist, juicy flavor with a great marinade.

Build in portion control

If you’re doing the grilling, you determine the size of the burgers, chops, fish, etc. Opt for smaller sized burgers, 6 to 8 oz. portions of lean meat and seafood, and chicken and turkey tenders rather than full breasts. Guests can always go for seconds if they wish, but they won’t be obligated to a 16-ounce steak at the outset. Benefits to you? Faster cooking, lower costs, and healthier hosting!

Boost flavor, not fat

Grilling and dipping sauces, rubs, and marinades add sumptuous flavor without much fat. How about Jalapeno Beer Sauce, Cajun Rub, Pepper Barbecue Rub, or Vodka Dipping Sauce? (Click here for recipes). Or perhaps a Pomegranate, Lemon-Rosemary or Spicy Paprika marinade, Maple Chipotle Barbecue Sauce, or Father’s Day BBQ Sauce─rich and spicy, just in time to celebrate Dad (Click here for recipes).

Kebab it up

Kebabs are ideal on many levels. First off, ease of grilling. Once they’re prepped, you have both your entrée and veggies cooked up together. Add a big green salad, whole-grain garlic bread and a superb Cabernet and you have an enviable feast. What to kabob? Chunks of chicken, firm tofu, prawns, scallops, and firm-fleshed fish are all winning options. Intersperse with cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, cut-to-size onion, carrot, summer squash, eggplant, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.

Be lavish with veggies

Grilled vegetables win raves. Think hearty Portabella mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, onions, corn-on-the-cob, sliced beets, whole endive, heads of radicchio—your options abound. Soy-ginger-garlic and honey-Balsamic marinades are both great accents. What about fruit? Peaches, plums and pineapple rings all grill beautifully, lending a smoky, sweet note to BBQ meats, poultry and seafood.

As you can see, your only limit is your imagination. Here’s to some great outdoor entertaining!

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