What's summer without dad's baby back ribs and his secret sauce? The good news: No one has to go without these favorites on the pit in order to eat healthier. While it's OK to have high-fat treats on special occasions such as family reunions and Juneteenth celebrations, it’s best to make a few tweaks to the menu for the weekly, backyard cookout.
Here are five tips to help dads (or any guy or girl who likes to grill) get creative with the pit and up their barbecuing game by cooking it on the healthier side.
Tip #1: Ditch the high-fat, high-calorie and high-sugar sauces.
- Instead of slathering on the sauce, think of rubbing on the low-sodium flavor. Fresh herbs and spices in various combinations: basil, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, paprika, parsley, thyme and no-salt, spice blends are all good choices. Try this spice rub, which will help boost heat and flavor in your favorite grilled foods.
1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon onion powder
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Rub on your favorite meat, poultry or fish. Cover meat and/or veggies in plastic wrap, set in refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes before grilling. (Tip: Make up a big batch in advance by tripling the recipe and store it in an airtight container for future use.)
Tip #2: Skip the pork and/or beef ribs, the ground, chuck hamburger meat and the processed hot dogs, which are all high-fat foods.
- Always opt for lean cuts of your favorite meats and trim any visible fat and skin from them prior to rubbing on the flavor. Chicken breast, pork tenderloin, firm fish like salmon and extra-lean ground turkey all work great on the grill.
Tip #3: Add a little variety to the pit by grilling fresh vegetables, too.
- Mushrooms, red onions, squash, zucchini, asparagus, egg plant, peppers, onions, mushrooms, radicchio and/or romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, celery and some potatoes (those for baking, not boiling) are perfect.
Tip: #4: Don’t burn the food!
- Those charred bits on foods are known to produce chemicals that may cause cancer. These chemicals are formed by putting food, primarily meats in direct contact with intense heat and flame. So, keep your flame in check with a spray bottle full of water, and if you have charred sections on your meat, don’t eat it. Remove it.
Tip #5: Keep the grill clean.
- Keep the grill clean. Always clean your grill after use with a wire brush, removing any burnt on bits and ashes. The end result: Your food will taste even better the next time you fire up the grill.