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BBQ Your Way to Better Health this Summer

Guest post by Ashley Koff, R.D.

While BBQs are a great way to socialize, celebrate, and share in culinary duties, they can also be a great addition to your family’s summer healthy eating regime.

However, too often summer BBQs are just the opposite. BBQs become an excuse for poorer quality ingredients, larger portions, and if you are hosting, they can become downright stressful as you try to develop a menu that caters to all.

So consider upgrading your BBQs this summer, nutritionally speaking, beginning
with these easy tips.
1. Quality first: Whether a food is a plant or animal product, better quality is the key to giving your body what it needs. That means organic soy, wild fish as well as grass-fed meat.

2. Variety: This doesn’t just mean chicken one night and tofu another, it means choosing a variety of fruits and vegetables, aiming to get all of nature’s colors, which each deliver different needed nutrients to the body. Think pasta sauce or salsa to top green vegetables or making a multi-vegetable kabob or fruit and yogurt parfaits with different color fruits.

3. Quantity: If you put it out it will likely be eaten or wasted (for food safety, it’s best not to leave food outside for over 2-3 hours), so determine how many people you expect and base your recipes on the number of mouths you expect to feed (see plan for examples of proper portions of carbs, proteins and fats).

4. Balance: While this could refer to making sure you aren’t the only one hosting /doing all the work, nutritionally it refers to making sure you have a balance of nutrients (carbs, protein, fats) as well as lots of unlimited non-starchy vegetables. A lot of people think beans or edamame for example, are just protein, but they provide carbs too; or they consider nuts and seeds fats, but don’t realize they deliver protein. So if you do serve a bean salad or hummus, then partner it with non-starchy veggies, not another starch like
potato or corn on the cob.

5. Skip It: The goal of a BBQ is to enjoy nature’s bounty (i.e. food) outdoors, so it doesn’t make any sense to mingle that with foods made in a chemistry lab. Remind guests and follow this rule yourself—the only items that should be served at a BBQ should come from nature. One thing that can make it harder is that the term “natural” or “all-natural” often appears on packages or in a product name. Unless a company clearly defines what natural means to them and you agree with it, you can’ t be certain it’s something Mother Nature intended you to eat and your body will recognize.

Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and beyond through raising public awareness of the value of quality eating.
Ashley will give a talk—A Case for Quality—at Zenergy on Tuesday September 19, 2013 at 1:00 p.m.