School is out, or almost out for most, so it’s just about time for the summer bbq season. The good news is you can enjoy your summer bbq and still eat heart healthy! You just need to know the healthiest way to bbq and the healthiest choices for your bbq meal. I’ve learned 14 ways to make your summer bbq heart healthy.
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1. Choose grilled fish often. The most heart healthy fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids. The fish that are the highest in omega-3 are salmon, trout, and herring. Our favorite fish to cook is salmon. You know your fish is done when it flakes easily when you test it with a fork. I have more tips about cooking fish in my post, The Best 10 Heart Healthy Cooking Tips. It’s tip #3.
2. The best chicken to grill is chicken breasts. It’s better than the dark meat, like legs and thighs, because those cuts of meat are fattier. It’s best to buy skinless chicken breasts, but if you buy it with the skin on, make sure to remove it before eating. I have some tips about this in the post mentioned above(tip #4). You can also grill chicken or turkey burgers using breast meat or even lean ground. Add diced onions for more flavor.
3. Buy the right cuts of red meat and pork. You should choose “loin” and “round” cuts of meat. If looking for grades of beef, you should pick “choice” or “select,” rather than “prime.” These cuts have the least amount of fat, but if there’s still any visible fat, cut it off before cooking. I talk more about this in my post, How to Shop for Heart Healthy Meat and Nuts.
4. Make sure to use a rack. When you use a bbq rack, it makes sure the fat drips away from the food. They have racks for everything nowadays: ribs, roasts, skewers, chicken, etc.
5. Serve colorful salads. The more colors you can get in your salads, the better. You can serve green leafy salads, instead of mayonnaise based salads. Fruit salads are also great to have in the summer and there’s plenty of delicious summer fruits to choose from. You can even combine salads and serve baby spinach with strawberries or mixed greens with orange slices. I’ve found a couple similar salad recipes and pinned it to my Healthy Vegetable Recipes board on Pinterest. Another idea is to add some toasted walnuts or almonds to your salad, instead of croutons, to add some crunch and healthier fats.
6. Serve raw veggies. It’s better to have carrot and celery sticks, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, or zucchini, rather than potato chips. The chips are sometimes high in saturated and trans fat. You can serve the vegetables with low fat dip that you can either buy or make yourself, or with low fat/fat free ranch dressing. I found a couple of low fat dip/dressing recipes and pinned them to my Healthy Snack Ideas Board on Pinterest.
7. Drink water. It’s better to drink water, or even diet soda, rather than regular soda. Regular soda usually has lots of sugar and calories. You can even add fruit or cucumbers to your water to give it a nice flavor. They have these new infused water pitchers that are popular right now that makes it easy to make this kind of flavored water.
8. Don’t serve commercially baked foods. Things you can buy in the bakery section of the store, like cookies, pies and cakes are usually high in saturated and trans fat because they’re made with egg yolks, butter or shortening. It’s better to bake them yourself, and you can use these ideas from my post, 14 Ways to Adapt Existing Recipes to be Heart Healthy, to help you make them.
9. Smoothies are a delicious alternative. My kids and I love smoothies, so this is one of our favorite ideas. You can make a smoothie with all kinds of different fruits that are in season. You just add fat free vanilla or lemon yogurt to it and a touch of honey, or our favorite, frozen vanilla yogurt. It’s a nice and healthy dessert or beverage to enjoy at a warm summer bbq.
10. Grill fruits for a delicious flavor. When you grill fruits, it brings out their natural sugars because they caramelize with the heat. That gives them a delicious flavor. You can grill pineapple slices, nectarines, peaches or plums. I’ve had grilled pineapple before, and it was yummy. Fruits are good to serve because they’re low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
11. Your salad dressing can serve more than one purpose. In tip #6, I mentioned serving raw veggies with low fat dressing, and in #5, I mentioned not making mayonnaise based salads. So, your low fat/fat free salad dressing could be used in both dishes! You can also use it as a marinade for whatever meat you’re cooking on the bbq. Italian dressing would be good for this and they also have lots of other good choices of dressings, like sweet mustard and vinaigrette. So, besides being a healthy alternative, you’d be saving money by only having to buy one item.
12. Watch out for salt. A lot of seasonings and condiments/sauces have a lot of salt in them, like teriyaki, soy and bbq sauce. You can find low sodium versions of all of these, including less expensive store brand versions.
13. Make sure you use low fat cheese. I love cheese, and love having it melted on sandwiches or hamburgers. I just have to make sure and use low fat, reduced fat, or fat free cheese on them. They still taste just as delicious, and the cheese still melts the same.
14. Choose whole-grain breads. Whatever breads, buns, rolls that you’re serving at your summer bbq, make sure they’re whole grain and high fiber. Some examples are whole wheat, oats, oatmeal, and buckwheat. They’re healthy and also add more flavor and texture to your meal. I wrote about whole grains in my post, How To Make Whole Grains Part Of A Heart Healthy Diet.
So, if you’re trying to live a heart healthy life, it’s good to know you can still enjoy your summer bbq. Now that you know what kinds of meats, salads, drinks and condiments to serve, you’ll have a delicious meal, and a heart healthy one too!
I learned all of this from the American Heart Association.
What kind of heart healthy food do you like to serve at your summer bbq?
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