8 Simple Tips To Be Healthy at a BBQ + 3 Recipes


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Written by: Doris Dahdouh

“Summer, summer, summertime…it’s summertime!” Chances are, if those lyrics sound familiar, you are either singing them in your head or remembering when Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff first came out with that song in the 90’s.

Summertime officially begins on June 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. In most parts of the world, summertime celebrates the beginning of sunny weather, longer days, parks/beaches, lighter clothing and, of course, barbecues! This time of year encourages outdoor activities with plenty of the vitamin D the sun has to offer. Oh, and did someone say BARBECUE?!

A lot of us look forward to outdoor gatherings that feature grilled meals, cold beverages and chilled desserts. Cooking professionals and amateurs alike are taking their kitchens outdoors. From the smallest of charcoal grills at tailgate parties to the fanciest of BBQ gas/charcoal grills, you can see them (and smell them) everywhere.

Invitations to cookouts are exciting because of the social gatherings, the potential to have fun and the great food!

But some people may worry about going to BBQ parties because of the possibility of falling off the “healthy eating” wagon.

Most cookouts serve hot dogs, commercial red meat hamburgers and “salads” that are probably a white processed carbohydrate drenched in mayonnaise with no sign of a clean, green color in sight.

So, what do you do now? Is it possible to stay on track?

Yes! Have no fear; you do not have to succumb to the unhealthy temptations that will undoubtedly be around you. You can eat well, enjoy yourself and possibly shed a few pounds with these 8 easy and helpful tips.

1. First and foremost, conquer any defeating negative thoughts.

Your perceptions are more powerful than any of your five senses. Prepare yourself by first changing your views.

In reality, you can overcome almost anything. Attitude and confidence are everything. So, believe in yourself! I know that sounds cliché, but it is true. When you wake up the morning of a BBQ, do a few light stretches, breathing exercises and mentally prepare yourself for the day. Make a small mental list with three reasons why you are going to stay on track. Then, remind yourself of those reasons to make healthy choices before you go and when you get there.

2. Bring your own food to grill.

Most hosts/hostesses will not mind if you ask to bring your own items to grill. This way, you can control what goes into your body when you are the one buying the ingredients. If you enjoy animal proteins, think wild caught seafood, organic or grass-fed red meat (free from hormones/antibiotics), organic chicken or turkey sausages/burgers or organic free-range chicken. Vegans and vegetarians can bring organic premade or homemade veggie burgers and grill friendly organic vegetables on the grill.

3. Bring a big green and colorful salad to share with the group.

Also, make your own homemade dressings in order to avoid store bought dressings that are filled with chemicals and artificial preservatives. Even something as simple as olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon and salt works great!

4. Bring some fermented vegetables such as homemade sauerkraut, fermented cucumbers and/or other fermented vegetables to add to your plate.

This will help keep your gut healthy with natural probiotics and add a delicious tangy flavor to your meal. The key is to have healthy bacteria in your intestines and help your digestion with these fermented foods.

5. Avoid gluten-filled products.

Ditch the hamburger and hot dog buns. As a matter of fact, discard all gluten products altogether such as bread, dressings, BBQ sauces and/or desserts. If you’re not sure if something contains gluten, read the label and look for these common ingredients.

6. Bring your own dessert.

You can buy or make a fruit salad, bring a chilled watermelon, grab a couple containers of coconut/almond ice cream from the freezer section in your grocery store, or make/buy a gluten-free/vegan/raw dessert. Keep in mind to always read labels whenever buying prepackaged foods. Try and stick with organic and non-GMO ingredients to lessen your chances of being exposed to unnecessary or harmful chemicals/additives.

7. Drink water before you head out the door.

In fact, plan on drinking water throughout the party. Bring fresh mint, any kind of berry and/or sliced lemon/oranges to put in your water to enhance the flavor. Please steer clear of sugary drinks, sodas and/or caffeinated drinks.

If you are planning on having an alcoholic beverage, limit your alcohol intake to half of what you normally drink. Have an additional glass of water to every alcoholic drink you consume. Remember, most beers contain gluten (unless otherwise noted), so if you are planning on having a beer or two, pick up some gluten-free options.

8. Lastly, participate in one of the activities at the barbecue.

If there is no hope of a little volleyball or frisbee throwing, bring something you can do with the group. There is usually a stereo playing in the background. Why not dance? Who says the host/hostess has to be the one providing the entertainment? Light dancing or kicking around a soccer ball will do wonders for your digestion, help you to interact with others and keep you feeling lighter and happier.

BBQs are famously known to be about consuming unhealthy foods. But it does not have to be that way! You can eat, drink and be merry while interacting and doing something fun for your body and your spirit.

Here are some of my favorite BBQ foodie ideas for you to enjoy without guilt!

Rainbow Vegetable Skewers
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 large squash
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 large green pepper
  • 1 large red/orange/yellow pepper
  • 2 lemons (freshly squeezed)
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic (crushed)
  • 1 handful fresh mint (chopped)
  • 1-1 ½ cups coconut yogurt (plain)
  • 1 tbsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bag of kabob sticks (soak in water for 30 mins before using)
  1. Cut up all vegetables into one-inch sizes and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill in the fridge for 20-30 mins before placing on kabob sticks. Arrange vegetables on sticks in rotating order then grill till vegetables are tender.

Organic Carrot and Spinach Chicken Burgers
  • 1 lb organic ground chicken
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
  • ½ tbsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  1. Place the carrot, spinach, garlic and onion in a food processor. Add mixture to a bowl with the organic ground chicken and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Shape mixture into burger sizes and place on grill. Cook through and serve.
Photo source: http://www.savormania.com/crispy-spinach-carrot-quinoa-patties/

Veggie Burger
  • 1 cup chickpeas (cooked)
  • 1 handful fresh parsley
  • 1 medium sweet potato (cooked and peeled)
  • 1-1 ½ cups gluten-free bread crumbs
  • ½ tbsp pink Himalayan sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  1. Add all ingredients except bread crumbs to a food processor. Add mixture to a bowl, then mix in bread crumbs till fully covered. Shape mixture into burger sizes and place on grill.
Photo source: http://www.fitgirlcode.com/food/8-mouth-watering-veggie-burger-recipes/


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Doris Dahdouh
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Doris Dahdouh

Doris Dahdouh has a Master’s Degree in social work and has helped counsel children and help families since 2001. In 2012, she became very ill due to a hormonal imbalance and autoimmune disorder. Doris was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) many years ago and was treated with mainstream medicine which did not help her. She hit rock bottom before finding refuge in holistic living, by juicing, going gluten free and eating clean, organic, whole foods. Over the past couple of years, Doris has educated herself on a healthy lifestyle by reading information by Dr. Joel Furhman, Drew Canole, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Josh Axe, Vani Hari (a.k.a. Food Babe) and more.

Doris is enrolled to become a certified health coach with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is very excited to help others achieve their best by combining her psychoanalytic skills and what she hopes to learn in the health coaching certification program. With a heart for others, she is eager to continue assisting as many people as possible towards optimal health.
Doris Dahdouh
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