Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Healthy BBQ Alternatives

Healthy BBQ Alternatives

I love BBQ. The intoxicating smell, being outdoors with friends and family, and the end product are all integral parts of mine and millions of other people's summer repertoire in this big world of ours. Of course, much of the more traditional BBQ fare, be it Argentinean or Alabamian, consists of the good stuff: nice, fatty, flavorful cuts of meats like Prime cut T-bone steaks, pork sausages, and baby back ribs. While those earthly pleasures are certainly enjoyable, for people trying to manage their weight and health, lower calorie and lower fat alternatives are beckoned. Here are a few of my favorite tasty yet decidedly healthier alternatives to traditional BBQ.

Chicken Sausage This stuff is good! Not only does it grill up nicely it comes in several varieties and is usually quite reasonably priced. Most supermarkets carry a nice selection with Aidells being a great and trusted name in the sausage world. Their sweet basil & roasted garlic and Portobello mushroom varietals are among my very favorites, and with each link coming in at about 140 calories, you can easily indulge and not feel totally guilty the next morning.

Burger Me A real beef burger is hard to replace, but when an alternative is appropriate a ground chicken burger is my favorite go-to. Turkey can be used if that's your bag, but as I mentioned, I find chicken to me a much more pleasant choice. Turkey is slightly leaner, but chicken is perfectly healthy, coming in at about 170 calories for 3 ounces. Ground chicken can be shaped into patties and thrown on the grill plain, or flavored beforehand. I personally do not like my burger to taste like meatloaf, so when I do add anything to chicken burgers, it is half a white onion, grated, with a pinch or 2 of red chili flakes. That's all it takes to make a bombastic burger!

Some Fine Legs I may seem like a turkey hater, but quite the contrary! Just the ground stuff that turns me sour, but most other parts are lovely, especially the legs. In fact, barbecued turkey legs are the perfect alternative to ribs for all of the bone-gnawers in your gang. My mom loves these prepared in a most simple way with a little trick. Before grilling, pour boiling water over the legs as it will kind of "pucker" the skin which helps make it extra crispy when cooking. Then make sure to pat dry well then rub with a little cooking oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then put on a hot BBQ until mostly done. Slather with good BBQ sauce then finish in a low oven for about 15 minutes.

Lean Cuts When considering health and counting calories, look for Choice cuts, which are in between the lovely marbled Prime cuts and the ultra lean Select. Of course, if you want super-lean, Select will be a good choice, if not a little less juicy.
A nice 4 ounce Choice Top Sirloin is going to cost you a whole 150 calories with 5 grams of fat. With all good cuts of meat, all a steak like this needs is a little salt & pepper, a scant amount of oil rubbed in and a hot BBQ grill. Alongside a great green salad, or perhaps the simple broccoli salad below, a nice steak like this should please even the most resentful dieter!

Simple & Healthy Broccoli Salad(a healthier twist on the classic which used mayo)
1 Large Head Broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 Cup Raisins
1 Carrot, shredded
3 Sliced Bacon, cooked until crisp, drained well, then crumbled
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Honey
Lots of fresh cracked black pepper & pinch of salt
Add first 4 ingredients to a large bowl. In a small jar, add the last ingredients and shake very well. Add to broccoli mixture and toss well. Good eaten right away or can be refrigerated for the next day.

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