What’s Labor Day without platters of barbecued food? It’s one of a handful of summer holidays set aside for getting together with friends and family to have fun while preparing comfort foods on a grill. The standard menu usually includes fatty, starchy, greasy delights. Burgers, hot dogs, ribs, corn on the cob, and potato salad. But not everyone at your Labor Day gathering may be willing to put their healthy diet on hold.
So, consider including a few healthy items on your cook out menu!
1. Fruit and Vegetables
Having fresh fruit and vegetables available is super easy. Browse the produce section of your super market and grab items that look fresh, ripe and in season. For appetizers, do trays of sliced raw carrots, celery, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes arranged around a dish of low calorie dip. Do a light arugula or mixed greens salad with a simple vinaigrette. Throw a few vegetarian skewers on the grill stacked with the most popular vegetables.
For dessert, whip up a quick fruit salad with apples, oranges, cantaloupe, berries, kiwis, and whatever else you like. You could also grill your favorite fruit, like peaches, bananas, or pineapple!
2. Lean Meats
Incorporate lean protein into your Labor Day menu. That means skinless chicken breasts, lean ground beef, lean steak, Asian barbecued pork, turkey burgers on whole wheat buns, and even chicken sausages. Trim off the fat before the meats hit the grill.
Go easy on the sauces and instead choose light, healthy marinades and rubs with garlic, fresh herbs, and spices.
Seafood is another healthy option to include. Try planked salmon, shrimp skewers with a rosemary garlic rub, shrimp burgers, or fish tacos. And don’t forget the marinade to boost the flavor.
Stuff salmon, asparagus and orange slices in foil packets or you can use a skillet on the grill to do Latin American prawns with Serrano chili. Quickly grill large plump scallops and top with a roasted pepper sauce. Tuck dill and lime in trout and grill over direct heat. Or for something a little different, try mahi-mahi tuna with bacon-tomato butter. The seafood options are nearly endless!
Grilled meats can be high in carcinogens. To cut down on those unwanted substances, use marinades with herbs and spices like thyme, garlic, and rosemary. Marinating protein like beef in red wine or beer can reduce carcinogens when grilled. Also, reducing the heat lowers carcinogens too. Nuke meat in the microwave before grilling and discard the juice.
5. Whole Grains
It’s hard to go without breads. Choose whole grain hamburger buns, hot dog buns, tortillas, and crackers. Instead of potato salad, try a healthy whole grain salad featuring herbs, vegetables, and couscous, bulgur, quinoa, or barley.
Incorporating healthy options into your Labor Day lineup is ridiculously simple. These ideas also add some variety to the standard barbecue menu. Your guests will appreciate a gracious host offering an array of dishes to accommodate many tastes and diets.
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