Eat healthy during summer barbecue season

Looking at the calendar, and feeling the sun’s warmth, that time of year is upon us again. Barbecue season. Seems like we haven’t had much of a spring this year with the unseasonably cold temperatures and higher than average rainfall, but we should see some warmer, longer days ahead with summer just around the corner.

How is it possible to keep healthy and eat well during this season, when we break out the deck furniture and barbecue tongs?

More sunlight, and our days are longer, so, there seems like there’s additional hours to eat over a 24-hour period. Also, it’s easy to throw our established healthy habits out the window when our routine changes with the transition into summertime fun.

Occasionally, more projects get kick-started and energy rhythms increase to match the sun’s rays. This helps our activity levels and increases lean muscle to improve fitness.

Grilling 101

Grilling and barbecuing are terms that are often used interchangeably. Both employ a dry heat cooking method in which the heat source is below the food.

In general, it’s best to grill only tender cuts of meat, such as beef, marinating steak, pork tenderloin, ground meat patties, poultry or salmon, trout, shrimp, prawns, scallops and lobster.

Kebabs offer a great way to incorporate more vegetables, and add some nutritional balance to the protein portion of the meal. Brushing marinades on meat, kebabs, vegetables and stuffed peppers will assist with moisture and flavour.

If ground meat is a regular grocery item, choose leaner ground meats more often for less fat. To help identify leaner cuts, extra lean is 10 per cent, lean meat 17 per cent, medium meat 23 per cent, and regular meat 30 per cent. If red meat is generally the choice for the protein part of the barbecue meal, fish can offer a convenient, healthy alternative more regularly.

Burgers made from alternatives to beef, include, veggie, salmon patty, chicken and portobello mushroom burgers to offer options other than red meat.

Also, use caution and food safety principles when preparing and grilling meat to reduce the risk of food poisoning with raw/undercooked meat.

How does your plate measure up?

There is growing evidence to suggest using a plant-based diet can help reduce risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.

A method to help this is to shift the focus from the meat portion of plate distribution to building the meal around vegetables. That means the protein section plays a lesser role in the meal’s ratio.

Divide your plate in half and fill one side with vegetables. With the other half, divide into two quarters and fill one with whole grain and other with meat or alternative. As an example of portion size of meat, use the size of a deck of cards or palm of hand as a guide.

To build your meal around vegetables, instead of meat as the prime feature, try dark/medium green and orange/yellow vegetables with most main meals to help establish an excellent healthy meal regime and foundation.

Also, veggie sandwiches, tofu, along with veggie burgers, or portobello mushrooms are all methods to include plant protein alternatives to meat.

Bean there

Along with the grilled items for your barbecue, a variety of salads can enhance the meal. Traditionally, garden or green leafy salads are a staple, yet, other plant-based salads are an easy way to expand your meal horizons.

Beans, such as lentils or chick peas are a convenient, economical addition to a mixed salad.

Canned varieties of beans are an easy and inexpensive source of protein that adds some nice texture to a salad. Rinsing the canned beans well under cold water reduces the sodium (salt content), plus limits the chance of experiencing uncomfortable and embarrassing gas.

Throwing in some seeds and nuts can also enhance the taste, texture and nutrition of your mixed salad.

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