Healthy Barbeque Recipes By Mike Westerdal of CriticalBench.com
Summer time means it is barbeque season—a time when people are thinking about firing up the grill and cooking some tasty burgers, hot dogs, ribs and more. There's nothing quite like the mouth-watering taste of a burger, hot dog or sausage freshly plucked from the hot grill, dripping in savory juices. Yes indeed, it's a taste that can't be beat. But like so many things we love, the rich barbeque flavors come with some drawbacks too. Most barbeque meats are high in fat and processed meats like hot dogs and sausages are packed with diet-crushing sodium.
Over the last several years there have also been some studies that seem to show a possible link between charred meats and some types of cancer. Specifically, according to the American Association for Cancer Research, meat cooked at high temperatures to the point of burning and charring may increase the risk of some types of cancer. However, no conclusive evidence has been presented and a firm link has not been established.
None of this means that you have to give up this long-lived summer tradition and give up your barbeque forever. Rather, you just need to approach the barbeque from a healthy perspective and learn to enjoy this time-honored tasty pastime in a slightly different—but no less delicious—manner. Let's see some of the countless ways you can enjoy the barbeque while still being mindful of your health.
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As I mentioned, researchers have not established a clear link between charred meats and increased risk of contracting cancer. However, there's no reason to take any chances. Just to be on the safe side, you should always grill your meats over a low flame or low heat. If you're using charcoal, be sure to light the coals and wait until they're glowing—not flaming—before you slap the meat on the grill. Keep an eye on the grill and don't overcook the meat. It is fine to make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked—you just want to try and avoid overcooking it to the point that it's charred.
Another thing you can do make your barbeques more healthy is to choose lean cuts of meat. If you are planning grilling burgers, go for the 93% lean/7% fat or even lean turkey burgers instead of ground chuck or ground round. Sure they're tasty, but they are also loaded with fat. You can grill chicken with the skin but remove it before you dig in. When selecting hot dogs or sausage for the grill, go for the lower fat options and also look for the ones that have the least sodium. And if you're grilling pork, be sure to choose lean cuts that have less fat. Skip the heavy sauces too if you want to make your barbeque experiences healthier. Most barbeque sauces are loaded with sugars and carbs.
Here are a few healthy barbeque recipes to start you on the proper path towards healthy and delicious barbeques:
• Lime-rubbed chicken with grilled pineapple: For this tasty dish you will need 4 medium (1 1/2 pounds) skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves; 4 tablespoons lime juice; 1 tablespoon(s) olive oil; 4 slices of pineapple; and salt and pepper. Mix the lime juice and olive oil in a small bowl. Dip the chicken breasts in the mixture and place on the grill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Grill the chicken until it is no longer pink. Place the pineapple slices on the grill and cook each side for a few minutes. Serve each chicken breast with a slice of pineapple.
• Grilled vegetables: To prepare this healthy and filling side dish you'll just need some vegetables and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Cut up a variety of vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, green peppers and anything else you happen to like. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle in balsamic vinegar. Cover the vegetables with another sheet of aluminum foil so they are sealed. Place the aluminum foil on the grill until the vegetables are cooked through, but not too soft. Add salt and pepper to taste, then dig in and enjoy.
• Grilled tuna with lemon juice. Tuna is packed with protein and low in fat. Start with four one-inch tuna steaks. You will also need the juice of one lemon and three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Place tuna steaks and olive oil in a large resealable plastic bag. Seal, and refrigerate for one hour. Lightly oil grill grate. Season tuna with salt and pepper, and cook on the preheated grill approximately 6 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a serving platter, and drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Serve immediately.