By Chrissie Duffield-Bittner, RDN, CPT
BBQs are filled with high caloric appetizer, mayo based salads, high fat and salt meat, processed buns, alcohol, and a bunch of sweets. The options are often not beneficial to the body. At the same time, if you are only consuming this type of food a few times a year, then enjoy. Other wise we can enjoy the items we love while also being healthy.
I encourage you to bring a healthy dish, so you know there is something that can be healthy. Plus be the example for your friends and family. A healthy dish may include: veggies and dip, salad, fruit, grilled veggies, guacamole, chickpea pasta pasta salad, buffalo chicken dip (made with Greek yogurt), or my sweet potato bun grass-fed sliders.
Red meat doesn’t always have to be the ugly step child. You can fit beef into your diet and still be healthy, make sure it is grass-fed, organic (if possible), and local (if possible). Other alternatives are lean turkey, chicken, salmon, bean, veggie, or portabella mushroom burgers.
Regular burger buns aren’t the enemy either, but I am sure you are eating enough starchy food at the BBQ, so why not make your burger healthier? I usually make a burger salad with a ton of lettuce, my usual burger toppings, tons of spicy mustard, and little ketchup. Or do what I did here and use roasted sweet potato slices for buns. Other options include: lettuce buns, sandwich thins, or zucchini slices.
One health concern we don’t think about when BBQ-ing is the cancer risk when cooking meat at the high temperature for an extended amount of time. There is a chemical reaction that occurs turning creatine from meat into heterocyclic amines (HCAs). The smoke to cook the meat often incluces the fat droppings from cooked meat, which contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). HCAs and PAHs from cooking meat have both been associated with higher cancer risks. Don’t fear it, BBQ can be healthy here are some ways to cut your cancer risk: you can use a marinade, spices, use fish and veggies, don’t overcook, lower temp, use lean meat, clean your grill, use foil, and flip often. Whatever we can do to prevent our cancer risk, especially since cancer runs in my family.
Serves: 8 sliders
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Slice sweet potato into 1/4 inch slices. In a medium bowl, mix with olive oil and S&P.
Place on greased baking sheet (I use a stone tray).
Bake for 40-45 min (until golden brown and soft), flipping half way through.
While sweet potato “buns” bake, get burgers ready. In a medium bowl mix together (don’t over mix) the rest of ingredients: grass-fed beef, garlic, chopped onion, mustard, worcestershire, S&P.
Create a rectangle with burger meat, cut into 8 even squares. Form into burger and create a dimple to help even out cooking.
Preheat grill to medium heat. Grill burgers for 4 min, until internal temp at 160°F or 145°F for medium-rare.
Create sliders: sweet potato, burger, cheese, onion, tomato, avocado, lettuce, sweet potato, and pickles OR anything you like to put on your burger.
1 sweet potato, sliced 1/4 inch
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb grass fed ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp onion, chopped
1 tsp Dijion mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
toppings: cheese (cut slice into 4 squares to fit sliders), onion, avocado, tomato, lettuce, low sugar ketchup, mustard