5 Ways to Have a Healthy “End of Summer” BBQ Bash

Happy Thursday Team!

Labor Day is only 3 days away and we know that invariably means that grills are being prepped, bags of charcoal are on standby, and grocery store meat departments are bracing for the impact that will come this weekend.

As with all holidays, Monday will be a “cheat day” for a lot of folks. Who in their right mind can exercise restraint when there’s burgers on the grill, chips and guac, and all sorts of other goodies sitting on the picnic table? Never fear, I’m here to tell you 5 ways that you can have a healthy, guilt free, and  tasty end of summer bbq bash that you, your kids, and the neighbors will love.



1. Choose QUALITY proteins.

I hate to break it to you but not all meats are created equal. When purchasing meats in general, there are a few important attributes that I look for:

– Locally sourced: I only buy meat that’s been produced locally (within 100 miles). Thankfully for Minnesotans, we have a ton of farms within 50 miles of the Twin Cities so access of quality, local meat is easy.

– Beef qualities: 100% grass fed. There are lots of debates about whether there’s significant differences between grass fed and corn fed beef. But for me, I choose grass fed whenever possible because grass is a cow’s natural diet. Cattle that’s grass fed is usually healthier and leaner. The old adage is true, you are what you eat. Do you want to be fat or do you want to be lean?

– Poultry qualities: 100% free range. I choose cage free eggs and poultry (and local of course) because do you really want to eat something that’s been cooped up in a cage sitting in its on feces with hundreds of other birds? Do you want to eat something that’s been injected full of antibiotics to combat cage diseases that chickens and turkeys get from being cramped up in overcrowded coops? Didn’t think so.

ABC News did a report on non-organic meats and found that about 70% of it has traces of salmonella and that nasty “pink slime”. Don’t put you or your family at risk by buying poor quality meats. Spend the extra money for better quality – you won’t be sorry.



2. Pick the right buns.
With gluten intolerance on the rise and an increase in GMO wheat, you may want to consider alternatives to generic buns this year.

Lettuce wraps: try using romaine lettuce leafs to wrap your burgers and brats. You get the benefit of some extra veggie action and virtually no carbs!

Make your own from scratch: in this day in age, there’s a recipe on the internet for everything. Making your own buns is a great activity to do with the kids and a great conversation starter. Who wouldn’t find some satisfaction in saying, “Try the buns! They’re homemade!”

If you’re buying from the store, READ THE LABELS. Go for something that whole grain with minimal additives. Got a local bakery near buy? If so, hit them up for some freshly baked buns. It’ll be a win for you and a win for them. (I like to support local small businesses as much as I can.)



3. Choose smart condiments.
I love ketchup and mustard just as much as anyone else, but the calories can quickly add up. Condiments used to be 100% homemade, now they’re packed with thickening agents, preservatives (isn’t it strange that ketchup and mustard have shelf lives of like 2 years?)

To choose wisely, here are some things to look for:

Mayo: most store bought mayo has canola oil or soybean oil in it. Soybeans are one of the most genetically modified crops in the US. Even mayo that say it’s made with “olive oil” has soybean oil in it. If you’ve never made your own mayo, now is your chance! Again, there are thousands of recipes online that are simple and tasty.

Ketchup: store bought ketchup is loaded with artificial sweeteners and sugar. In a study published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that organic ketchup contains 60% more cancer-fighting lycopene (an antioxidant) per gram than non organic counterparts.  Want to stick with the homemade everything theme? Here’s a simple recipe for making your own: Combine organic tomato paste, organic white vinegar, organic garlic and onion powder, organic allspice, organic cayenne pepper, unrefined sea salt, organic pepper, and pure stevia extract.

Mustard: Go organic. The white vinegar that’s used in conventional mustard typically comes from GMO corn (roughly 88% of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified). Annie’s Organic Yellow Mustard is a good store bought alternative if you’re not interested in making it yourself.

pasta salad


3. Choose smart yet tasty side dishes.
There’s are tons of side dishes out there but I’ll go over a few of the common ones.

Pasta salad- the pasta used in pasta salad usually comes from refined wheat that spikes blood sugar. Opt for a healthier noodle by buying ones made from quinoa, amaranth, or brown rice. Or better yet, gluten free noodles. To go one step further in making it healthier, ditch the mayo (unless you made it yourself) and use plain Greek yogurt instead.

Sauerkraut instead of coleslaw: since ‘kraut is a fermented food, it has a lot of healthy pro-biotic qualities that are great for digestion and stomach health. It has significantly less calories and sugar than coleslaw and sugarless.



4. Use good grilling skills
Don’t char your meats. According to the American Cancer Institute, charring meat causes heterocyclic amines (HCA’s) carcinogens to form in the meat. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to eat potentially cancer causing meat this year, or ever for that matter.

To avoid charring meat, use marinades that contain lemon. There are properties in lemon juice that prevent the HCA’s from sticking to the meat. Turn down the heat or raise the rack. The HCA’s are formed primarily when juice from the meat drips on the rack and burns, the vapors that are released then flare up into the meat. Use tongs to flip meats to prevent dripping (which will in turn cause burning and charring).


I hope this was helpful for all of you gearing up for this weekend!

I would love to see what you all make so feel free to post pictures on our Facebook!

Until next time,


Coach Colleen