BBQ season is here! But before you dash out to grab your usual go-tos, we’re here to suggest a DASH-inspired BBQ instead.
Okay, but what the heck is DASH?
It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. A DASH-diet (high in fruits, veggies and whole grains and low in salt, red meat, and dairy) has been proven to reduce blood pressure and, in turn, reduces your risk of serious health issues, like heart attack, stroke, or kidney failure.
For an article on BBQs, we realize this sounds a little dry. But we promise, your food will be anything but dry. In fact, you can still grill up some downright drool-worthy dishes using DASH-inspired ingredients and recipes.
Keep reading for seven ways to make sure your next BBQ is heart-healthy and delicious.
1. Rethink your apps
It’s hard to imagine a BBQ without bowls of potato chips lying around. Well, it’s time to think outside of the bag [of chips]. Instead, get your crunch on with some celery sticks or mixed nuts.
You can also try a bowl of grapes. Quench your thirst (and avoid sugary sodas or too much alcohol) by leaving out a platter of mouth-watering melon to pick at.
2. Demote your meats
If you like a bit of variety in your life, shish kebabs are the perfect way to change things up each time you dine – and also help make sure the meat is just one piece of the puzzle, not the star of the show.
Mix up your sticks with just a little bit of meat (the less red meat, the better) and a variety of veggies (sweet peppers, onions, mushrooms). And don’t forget the fruit (pineapple, tomatoes, or even watermelon)!
3. Go homemade or go home
When you buy a pre-made burger, you have no say in how much sodium you’re consuming. But if you make your own, you can minimize or completely eliminate the salt. Tasty spices like onion or garlic powder will add a nice burst flavour. And if you like it hot, consider adding paprika or even chipotle to the mix.
Ready to start cutting down on how much meat you eat each week? Find a veggie burger you love by experimenting with different recipes until you find one that you enjoy. Then alternate between meat and veggie nights. Or, make slider-sized meat patties to control your portion sizes from the get-go.
4. Say buh-bye to white buns
When preparing hamburgers or sausages (we recommend avoiding hot dogs altogether – they essentially have zero health benefits – sorry, guys!), opt for whole grain buns for their added nutrients.
Even better, avoid breads altogether. Consider a lettuce “bun” (we’re serious!), or serve white meats, like chicken or fish, that don’t require a carb pairing.
5. Learn to love grilled veggies
Don’t worry, we’re pretty sure it’ll be love at first bite. It’s time to stock up on aluminum foil (or invest in one of these guys) because you’re going to love this smoky version of your usual veg. Potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, asparagus, even green beans.
Just google your veg of choice, and you’re bound to find simple recipes for the BBQ. For some impromptu caramelized onions, chop some up and throw them into the mix. Seriously delicious.
6. Give your corn a smoky makeover.
We realize corn counts as a veggie, but the BBQ’d version is so good we thought it deserved its own spot on the list. Have you ever tasted how awesome grilled corn can be? Because you can’t get that “right off the barbie” smoked taste when you cook your corn in a pot of boiling water.
Honestly, these grilled cobs are so good, you don’t even need butter. Plus, if you’re a bit pressed for time, you don’t even need to take the corn out of their husks. Nice!
7. Do dessert differently.
For a whole new way of doing dessert, throw some fruit on the BBQ! Wow your guests with these grilled peaches or assorted fruit skewers. For the skewers, we recommend replacing the margarine with a healthy oil (e.g., almond, avocado, coconut or olive) for a truly DASH version of this recipe. Or to make life really easy, simply put out a fresh platter of fruit and forego the grilling altogether.
If you want to eat healthier this summer, a good first step is incorporating the DASH-diet into your summer BBQs. Use our tips above, and you won’t have to worry about compromising the taste. Bon appetit!