With warmer weather, thoughts often turn to barbecues. However, the typical barbecue foods such as hot dogs, potato salad and chips tend to be not good for the heart.
Fortunately, it is possible to host a heart-friendly barbecue that is both healthy and delicious.
On the Grill
Often, the main focus for grilling is meat. However, there is more that can be done using the grill.
Corn on the cob works well on the grill and is easy to prepare. Just remove the silk, pull the husk back into place, and grill it. This sweet vegetable does not need drowned in butter and salt. A drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of fresh basil is a delicious and healthier way to enjoy this.
Sweet potatoes, which are packed with nutrition, can be prepared in different ways. Coat them in olive oil and spices or dress them up with a bit of lime juice and cilantro.
Another food given to grilling is asparagus. A brush of olive oil and just a hint of sea salt help to transform this simple stalk into a delight.
As for main dishes, there are ways of having healthier versions of the classics. For instance, vegetarian hot dogs can take the place of meat hot dogs; many of the prepackaged ones are not well-suited to grilling itself but would benefit from being cooked in a cast iron pan on the grill.
Turkey burgers or black bean burgers are good in lieu of beef hamburgers. Another "burger" choice are grilled portobello mushrooms, which can be marinaded in balsamic vinegar.
Off the Grill
Of course, not all barbecue foods are centered around the grill. Just as grilled foods can be re-imagined, so too can these various dishes.
Potato salad can be made more healthier by skipping the mayonnaise. This can be done by replacing it with Greek yogurt or pureed cauliflower for a creamy dressing, or olive oil or balsamic vinegar can be used to make things lighter.
Also, sweet potatoes can be incorporated into the salad as well to help make it even healthier.
Macaroni salad, like potato, can benefit from the removal of the mayonnaise. Greek yogurt, pureed cauliflower, olive oil or balsamic vinegar all also work quite well in this dish.
Baked beans can be made vegetarian or even vegan. The simple act of removing the pork helps to lower the sodium and fat levels, and it still leaves a delicious dish.
Potato chips can be baked instead of fried. Make this even healthier by making homemade baked chips. You not need to stop at potatoes. Sweet potatoes, kale, carrots and other vegetables can make for wonderful and healthy choices.
Dessert should not be the place where everything is undone.
Healthier choices such as fresh strawberries topped with just a hint of real whipped cream, fruit salad, baked apples or pieces of dark chocolate can still offer sweet ending while being healthier options than more standard fare.