The 3 B's of Summer- Barbecues, Beers and Birthdays

Let’s talk about the 3 B’s of summer- barbecues, beers and birthdays. When it’s hot and the days are long, beer and barbecue go hand and hand (literally a burger in one and a beer in the other). Throw in birthdays and other celebrations and it’s easy to have a 3-month long party all summer. In this episode we cover healthy barbecue tips and menu planning, cooking temperatures to avoid getting sick from bad food, healthy summer spirits and habits for summer celebrations.

But first, here’s what we have learned since the last episode.

There’s a new diet on the prowl. It’s the pegan diet, a fusion of the paleo diet with veganism, introduced by Dr Mark Hyman of the Cleveland Clinic. It’s about 75% plant based foods and 25% sustainably raised meat, poultry and fish. Beans and gluten free grains are suggested only sparingly. No wheat, gluten, dairy or sugars are included in this diet.

Next, we learned that there is also a new exercise trend gaining popularity. It’s called plogging, which is running while picking up trash, so basically cleaning up the environment while getting in your cardio, aka major multitasking.

Onto the first B of summer, barbecue. The options for a healthy barbecue or grill out are endless. Start by planning your menu.

Pick a lean meat like skinless chicken, pork tenderloin, sirloin steak, shrimp or fish. Chicken sausage is at most grocery stores now and usually has a lot less calories than pork sausage. If you make turkey burgers (another B!), be sure to season them well. Try a Cajun seasoning blend or minced garlic, chopped green onions, Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning and pepper. Check Emily’s cookbook, The Fresh Farmhouse Kitchen, for a great summertime turkey burger recipe.

Pick a couple of vegetables. Ones that go great straight on the grill are zucchini and summer squash spears, halved bell peppers or cabbage or cauliflower cut into “steaks” and brushed with olive oil. Use grill-baskets or foil packets for chopped vegetables. Try corn or sweet potato halves for a starch.

Even dessert can be grilled. Try halved peaches with the pit removed or pineapple rings on the grill and serve them with ice cream, yogurt or on top of a healthy baked good like Emily’s Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bread.

To prep your menu, start by marinating. Chicken, beef and pork can marinate overnight. Fish only needs about an hour and longer than that could leave you with a pile of mush. A simple marinade for meat and chicken would include and acid, like vinegar or lemon juice, typically an oil unless you want to keep the calories lower, and seasonings like garlic and pepper. Try Tony’s Sweet Heat Peppers and Marinade for a quick grilled chicken.

Why marinate? It helps add flavor, moisture, tenderizes the meat, plus the could reduce the production of potentially cancer-causing compounds in grilled meat. Marinating meats before grilling them may reduce the amount of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that can form on meat exposed to high cooking temperatures. Studies have shown that in some cases, even briefly marinating foods can reduce HCAs by as much as 92% to 99%, according to the American Institute for CancerResearch. Scientists aren't sure exactly what causes this, but a marinade may act as a barrier, or the protective powers may come from the ingredients, like vinegar.

Every host’s greatest fear: making guest sick from undercooked food! A small investment in a meat thermometer is a must! It’s hard to tell when food is done on the grill just by looking. Here are the safe minimum internal cooking temperatures for meats.

  • Beef, pork, veal and lamb: 145 °F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes

  • Ground meats: 160°F (remember ground meats are more likely to cause foodborne illness because it is more exposed to air)

  • All poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, wings, ground poultry and stuffing): 165°F

  • Fish and shellfish: 145°F

Here is the meat thermometer Mindy mentioned on the show from Amazon.

There is something known as the Danger Zone...the food safety danger zone. It’s when food sits out between 40 and 140 °F for too long. If you are outside, that’s more than 1 hour. Between 40 and 140 degrees is when bacteria is most likely to grow and cause food borne illness. So keep hot food hot with chafing dishes and cold food cold by putting it on ice. Pick up foil pans, chafing dishes and Sterno cans at your local grocery store to keep hot food hot.

Next, if you are having friends over and you know they follow a certain eating plan you would like to accommodate, here are some ideas:

  • Starting with a keto barbecue menu of 80% ground beef burgers with cheese, cabbage steaks drizzled with olive oil and bacon crumbles, grilled zucchini with parmesan and peanut butter chocolate fat bombs.

  • For the vegan in your life, grilled zucchini boats with tomatoes, white beans and basil, whole wheat pasta salad, grilled peaches and vegan ice cream (like So Delicious brand).

  • For low-carb, marinated grilled chicken, shrimp skewers, foil veggie packets with bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and Italian dressing, mashed cauliflower and low carb chocolate or lemon cream pie made with almond flour crust and sugar free pudding or whipped cream filling.

We have covered the food, but what about the beverages? BBQs and beers go hand in hand. Then throw in the third “B” birthdays and celebrations and the plan to be super healthy goes south. When BBQ, booze (another B!) and parties collide, here are a few things to do to help keep health in check. First, do not show up to the party starving. Have a string cheese, protein shake or handful of nuts before you go. Second, drink water with and between alcoholic drinks. That helps cut back on alcohol, jumps your water intake for the day and saves calories. Also consider drinking more water before events, for instance two days before a party, drink more than your normal intake. For Emily, that’s two gallons per day for those two days. Last, since some parties go all day, eat a couple of small meals throughout to enjoy the variety and keep portion control in mind.

If you will be drinking, remember moderation to avoid the next morning “what did I do yesterday” wake-up! Remedy is our go-to supplement to help prevent feeling hung-over.

Lower calorie drink ideas:

Happy Independence Day to all of our listeners! We thank the service members listening at home and abroad. Because of you, we are able to choose how we work and live in the US and we are incredibly grateful for that!

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