The heat of summer
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Independence Day is the pinnacle of barbecue season. Cantaloupe, mangoes, peaches, strawberries, watermelon, corn, eggplant, green beans, peppers, summer squash, and tomatoes are just some of the fruits and vegetables that are in season around the Fourth of July. There is a reason why seasonal fruits and vegetables taste and look so much better and provide more nutrients: they are at their peak of beauty and perfection during their growing season.
Even though it’s common to associate the grill with primarily meats, there are innovative approaches to improving the healthiness of traditional barbecue fare. Plant-based meat alternatives such as tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, and pulses (dry beans and peas, chickpeas, and lentils) are great sources of protein. These are delicious and can be used as a supplement to or replacement for protein from animals.
Now, to elevate your barbeque to the next level, The Healthy @Reader’s Digest spoke with Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian and author of the upcoming 2023 cookbook The Plant Love Kitchen (National Geographic), about how to make the most of your summer holiday menu.
From the perspective of licensed mental health professionals, here are nine reasons why you need a barbecue for your own sanity.
The skewers should be loaded with three times as many vegetables or fruits.
According to Moore, a good rule of thumb is to eat three servings of produce for every serving of fish, chicken, or meat.
Absolutely fantastic; Skewer juicy chunks of peach or nectarine and a chunky slice of red onion with some succulent chunks of chicken or fish and you’ve got a crowd-pleasing meal that’s also good
Appetite-satisfying filling for Paninis
Serve fresh tomatoes at your next barbecue with this plant-based caprese panini.
Offer fruity drinks to quench your guests’ thirst.
Mix some slushies. Moore recommends combining frozen cantaloupe cubes with fresh mint for a refreshing and healthy snack. We also recommend our sister site, Taste of Home’s, seasonal fruit salsa, watermelon salad, and watermelon gazpacho.
Cook the classic steakhouse staple of eggplant “steaks” or jumbo portobello mushroom caps on the grill with the standard seasonings of oil, salt, and pepper.
Transform eggplant “steaks” into sophisticated gyros. The end of summer is a great time to enjoy steak tacos made with cauliflower.
Put together some smoky grilled skewers of fruit like pineapple, strawberries, or figs. They’re delicious any which way you eat them, but especially hot off the grill or drizzled over some ice cream.
Or, impress your guests with a bowl of fresh fruit salad by layering various kinds of fruit in a rainbow pattern.
amp up your salad dressings
Moore recommends chickpea pasta because it “pairs especially well with tomatoes, olive oil, and fresh basil” and is “a protein-packed side for your cookout pasta salad.”
You could also eat the chickpeas whole, as in a salad featuring grilled vegetables and a curry dressing.
Make tofu and tempeh
Grill up some marinated tofu “steaks” or tempeh cubes on skewers. Try a soy-ginger dressing from Asia or a lemon-dill marinade from Greece. Or use a marinade that works year-round.
Crank up the craziness (and seedier)
Pesto is delicious on grilled skewers or mixed into a pasta salad made with chickpeas or other pulses. Satays can be grilled and served with a Thai peanut or almond sauce, which you should make. To add crunch, you can sprinkle “everything bagel” seasoning or pumpkin, sunflower, or sesame seeds anywhere.
Grill those beans
Moore recommends cooking white beans in a cast-iron skillet with the traditional baked bean ingredients. “While the beans are simmering, cook them in a closed grill to add a smoky flavor.” Brilliant.
Enjoy a piece
To add some protein to your flatbread snack, try spreading some edamame pesto on the grill. Grill up a pizza to impress your guests, or stock up on the cauliflower crust brands recommended by registered dietitians.
Read on, and don’t forget to follow The Healthy @Reader’s Digest on Facebook and Instagram:
10 Delicious Barbecue Menu Ideas From a Nutritionist originally appeared on The Healthy.
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