Fire up the grill this summer with more than just meat. Grilled vegetables are a great addition to the classic barbecue menu.
Photo By D'Arcy Norman/Courtesy Flickr
What says summer more than firing up the grill for a barbecue party? With a little planning, your barbecue can be healthier for you and for the planet. By choosing the right meat or vegetarian option, charcoal and dishware, you can have a green and healthy barbecue.
Buying organic meat is the first step to having a healthier barbecue party. Choose organic, grass-fed beef that is free of antibiotics and growth hormones.
Fish is another great barbecue option—cod and salmon both have low mercury levels and are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Find sustainable seafood suppliers at Fishchoice.com.
Avoid conventional hot dogs and bratwurst, which contain harmful nitrates used to preserve the meat. Nitrate-free options are available.
For a vegetarian option, consider either buying organic veggie burgers or making your own. Try this recipe made from lentils for a delicious, meat-free option.
Recent studies have denounced grilling methods for releasing harmful carcinogens in meat. Because barbecuing involves cooking meat for longer amounts of time at a higher temperature, there is an increased chance of forming heterocyclic amines—HCAs—which can cause cancer. HCAs form at high temperatures when the amino acids react with the creatine inside the muscle of the meat.
Before charring your hamburgers, consider the health risks. Marinate your meat before putting it on the grill, and baste it regularly while cooking. This will keep it moist and prevent it from burning. To cut down on grilling time, bake meat before finishing it up on the barbecue at a lower temperature. Cook your meat medium-rare, and cut it in to smaller pieces to reduce grill-time.
To spice up your grilling fare, use herbs from your garden to season everything from your meat to your veggies. Mountain Rose Herbs offers USDA organic seasoning blends that will keep your taste buds satisfied.
No hamburger is complete without condiments, but look for toppings without high fructose corn syrup and other preservatives. Try natural and organic options for ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce. Organicville has a USDA-certified organic ketchup made with agave nectar instead of HFCS or added sugar. Choose whole-grain hamburger buns also.
Stock up on leafy greens and fruits from your local farmer’s market to round out your menu. Try this recipe for grilled scallions and asparagus.