postmodyrn Eats! : Tackling Grilling Season, Healthfully
Right on cue, grill season has begun. Surely you are familiar with this scene: Piles of hotdogs and hamburgers, soft squishy buns, colorful bottles of ketchup, mustard, relish and beer.
No matter how many miles we’re clocking on the jogging stroller, these backyard BBQs can seriously thwart our efforts to get fit and feel our best.
It’s not really the grill that’s the problem. Heck, I love that my little ones will play in the sandbox instead of hanging on my leg! Everyone is happier eating outside.
The problem is that the menus tend to be sooooo American...in a bad way. Cheap meat, lots of bread and a severe lack of vegetables are the norm. But we can change that! Say goodbye to your hotdog bun hangover and hello to some fresh ideas for the grill.
1. Nix the buns
Grilling can actually be an amazing way to feed yourself without the bread bloat. Just be careful when planning your grill items. A pile of bun-less hamburgers is sad, but a plate of grilled mahi mahi? Amazing. Also try steak or bone-in chicken parts that don’t dry out as easily as boneless, skinless cuts.
2. Have fun with condiments
Ketchup? Eh. It’s just one more way sugar and high fructose corn syrup sneak into our diets. No one needs it. Instead, how about pesto sauce over chicken? Fruit salsa with fish? Tzatziki over steak? Now we’re talking.
3. Grill your veggies
You may be surprised at how easily you can grill vegetables. Eggplant, asparagus, bell peppers – just brush with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill until tender or slightly charred. You can even grill kale. Seriously, it’s delicious (and ridiculously easy).
RECIPE: Grilled Tuscan Kale
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale
- 2-3 Tbl. melted coconut oil
- Salt and pepper
With your fingers, massage oil onto the front and back of each leaf. Place leaves on hot grill, cook just a few minutes, until tender. Flip to char a bit on both sides.
4. Choose quality meats
All meat is not created equal. Whether you care about animal welfare, the environment, or your own nutritional needs, meat sourced from healthy, pastured animals is the best way to go. I cringe at Whole Foods’ animal welfare rating system because most of their meat is marked as a 1 or 2 (the lowest scores). Arguably, this stuff is better than the meat sold at conventional grocery stores…but still. Your best bet? Buy meat from local, trustworthy farms.
5. It doesn’t all have to be grilled
BBQs are a perfect time to break out an impressive side dish. Here are a few awesome, make-ahead salad combinations:
- Black beans, jicama, tomatoes, cilantro, cumin and lime (see my recipe with grilled honey-lime chicken here)
- Lentils,celery, tomatoes, fresh mint and fresh dill
- Cooked, cubed sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, red bell pepper, corn, jalapeño and garlic
6. Drink something special
Don’t want to drink beer? Make yourself something yummy and fizzy that celebrates the warm weather. Seltzer with fresh fruit slices and mint leaves is delicious. Or make a low-alcohol sangria with white wine (try a recipe that leaves out the sugar for extra credit).
Making conscious choices can be delicious. And it will help you feel your best – and that’s really the point. As moms, we need to take care of ourselves so we can best take care of everyone else. Enjoy your summer!
Michelle Pfennighaus is a mom of 2 boys, ages 4 and 1. She suffered for years with debilitating IBS and anxiety until finally healing herself through changes in diet and lifestyle. Since then, she has used food as a catalyst to transform the lives of thousands of clients worldwide. Her life’s reinvention has been documented in the movie “Lemonade” and she’s been featured on ABC, NBC and NPR with her inspiring story. Learn more at FindYourBalanceHealth.com.