I couldn’t tell you where the traditions came from, but each year for the 4th of July I find myself watching fireworks and enjoying a BBQ. A lot of our typical BBQ foods aren’t the healthiest choices, but I have some suggestions that will help you have a healthy 4th of July this year.
- Make a smart meat selection. The main entre of a BBQ is, of course, the meat. Choose leaner cuts of meat for an all around healthier meal. Fish, chicken or turkey breast, lean cuts of beef (less marbling), low fat burgers or hot dogs.
- Enjoy some fruit. So many fruits are on sale and in season this time of year. Enjoy some fresh watermelon, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries all at least half the price then they are the rest of the year. Fruit is high in nutrients (vitamins and minerals) and low in calories. Add more fruit to your BBQ by including a fruit platter with a low fat fruit dip or grilling up some pineapple while cooking your meat.
- Veggie time. Vegetables are high in nutrients like fruit, but lower in calories and sugar. You can’t go wrong with a great vegetable platter with dip. Grill up kabobs with steak or chicken and throw on fruit and vegetables: mango, kiwi, pineapple, apple, zucchini, tomato, mushroom, bell pepper, shallots, or anything that sounds good to you. Grill up some zucchini cut lengthwise and top with garlic powder and mozzarella cheese once cooked.
- Have fun enjoying the games, activities, or conversation at your BBQ and don’t fixate on the food. A lot of social activities seems to revolve around food, but don’t let yourself fall into that pitfall. Have fun and enjoy the company!
Follow the tips below for healthy grilling suggestions:
- Adjust your grill so that food cooks evenly inside and out. If the temperature is too hot the outside may get overcooked before the inside reaches proper temperature.
- Make sure to use a clean plate for meat once it is cooked. Don’t allow the juice from the raw meat to come in contact with any read-to-eat foods.
- Clean your grill between uses to reduce exposure to bacteria and carcinogens.
- Turn meat over at least once to allow more even cooking.
- Avoid charring the outside of meats as it can produce carcinogens. To reduce these substances marinate the meat, pre-cook it before grilling, or scrape off any blackened surfaces.
- Cook poultry and fish until internal temperatures reaches target: 165F for poultry and ground meat, 145F for pork or fish.
- Control coals to avoid flame flare-ups: trim obvious fat from meat first, drain high fat marinades, have a spray bottle of water.
However you celebrate the 4th of July make it a fun and healthy holiday. Enjoy your favorite traditions and maybe start some new ones this year. Happy grilling!