Ditch Red Meat – Try These Healthy Alternatives Instead


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Written by: Kirsten Cowart

BBQs are an American tradition where family and friends come together to celebrate and enjoy a break from the regular structure of life. Just like most main events, there is a huge focus on food, especially meat at BBQs in particular.

Believe it or not, there are some important things you can do at your next BBQ to stay healthy and still have a great time!

It is pretty common to go to an all-American BBQ and see the chef with grilling utensils in one hand and a full plate of spiced and marinated meat in the other. His whole goal is to create as much delicious tasting meat as possible for the group to feast on.  

In a world that is phasing out excessive meat consumption, focusing on our health and still wanting to have a good time, it is about time that we started adding some alternatives to tone down the unhealthy practices of the past and evolve our eating.  

What better way can you take care of your heart health than to cut back and avoid the 2 main types of meat that escalate the problem?

1. Avoid and Reduce Red Meats – Beef, lamb and pork should be kept at a minimum. Maybe you choose to avoid them altogether. Chances are that you will feel better – listen to your body and see what it says.

2. Avoid Processed Meats – Salami, bacon, bologna, ham and hot dogs are full of chemicals that are harmful to your body. They’re often not completely meat at all!

Now that you know what you are avoiding, what can you do instead to still make sure that you are having a great time?

Here are 5 tips to spice up your BBQ with healthy alternatives!

1. Set Rules: If you are set on having red meat at your BBQ, try to go with the special occasion rule – only eat these types of foods on special occasions. This means that the weeks leading up to your BBQ are red meat-free. That way, when you do eat red meat, it is rare enough that it won’t escalate any health problems.  

2. Try Alternatives: Instead of having processed hot dogs, sausages and low-quality ground beef burgers, try some of these healthier alternatives: Salmon burgers, organic beef, grass fed burgers, buffalo or turkey burgers.

3. Go Vegetarian: Another option is to go vegetarian for your protein needs and make bean-based veggie burgers, tofu kebabs, portabella mushroom burgers, or thick slices of eggplant.

4. Get Creative: Another fun activity is to get a bunch of different veggies such as onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, summer squash and peppers and put them in separate bowls. Then have everyone mix and match their favorites on skewers for a personalized BBQ experience. You can also add different spices or marinate the veggies before grilling.

5. Try Chili: Minimize your meat by serving chili. Simply mix a small amount of high-quality meat with rich-in-fiber beans, peppers, tomatoes and onions.

Bonus BBQ Tip!  Avoid HCAs and PAHs – Potential carcinogens in cooked meat.

Something else to be aware of when cooking at a barbecue is to avoid the dangerous chemicals heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  

Basically what happens is that when meat – specifically beef, pork, fish, or poultry – is cooked over an open flame or is pan fried, these chemicals are generated.  

According to the National Cancer Institute, these chemicals can cause changes in the DNA that may increase the risk of cancer.

If you decide to eat BBQ meat at your next party, try these 4 tips to reduce the formation of harmful chemicals.

1. Reduce the formation of HCAs and PAHs by continuously turning meat while keeping it on a high heat source.

2. Pre-cook your meat in the oven.

3. Use thinner cuts of meat.

4. Avoid cooking the meat too long.

With all these tips, you should be ready to please the meat eaters while still gently nudging everyone’s health in a great direction! Let us know in the comments below what you do to stay healthy during the holidays and especially during BBQ season!


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Kirsten Campbell
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Kirsten Campbell

Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
Kirsten Campbell
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