Summertime is a time for friends and families to get together to celebrate friendship and the great outdoors. Whether enjoying a weekend camping or a backyard barbecue, food is usually the focus of the day. And it’s often a time when we feel justified in stuffing ourselves with our favorite great-tasting treats.
Hot dogs buried in chili? Corn-on-the-cob bathed in butter and salt? Chips and dips? French fries? Potato salad?
In the moment, this delectable food feels (and tastes) like a dream come true. But by the next morning we may regret our impulsive choices. A day of indulgence has consequences, more so if you have health issues.
What’s so bad about those nutrient-sinful foods?
- Too much sodium in commercially prepared hot dogs can add to high blood pressure concerns and heart disease.
- Hamburger meat? Surprisingly, there are about 16 grams of fat and 230 calories in the average ground beef patty. By topping it with high-calorie cheese, fried onions, sugary ketchup or fatty mayonnaise we add more calories to the total. And a typical Texas-sized hamburger patty is often large enough to feed two people!
- Pasta, macaroni, and potato salads are laden with fats and simple carbohydrates
- Hamburger and hot-dog buns are usually made from white bread, are highly processed and a generally stripped of nutrient value.
Healthy food choices that still leave you satisfied
It is possible to enjoy a backyard barbecue while still eating healthy flavorful foods.
To keep your carbohydrate consumption in a healthy range, select foods suggested in the Primal diet and/or the Mediterranean diet.
The Primal diet emphasizes eating foods that are as close to their natural state as you can find them. Specifically, foods that were eaten before the Industrial Revolution. That means omitting grains, beans, lentils, soy and peanuts, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and refined vegetable oils in your diet.
So, what’s left? Many healthy food choices—every kind of fruit and vegetable, meats, fish, eggs, nuts (other than peanuts), seeds, healthy fats, and dairy products, both raw and fermented, including raw cheese. Sweeteners should be natural, such as raw honey and pure maple syrup.
Sound too strict? Then consider the Mediterranean way of eating.
The Mediterranean diet isn’t based on a single diet plan, but it does focus on some of the same foods as the Primal diet, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and meat. However, the Mediterranean diet is strong on some items not included in the Primal diet, meaning that whole-grain breads, beans, and dairy are important foods on the menu. In addition, olive oil, olives, yogurt and eggs in small portions, wine and potatoes are all considered essential. And they all sound pretty tasty.
To boost the nutritional content of your barbecue, be creative!
Instead of a hot dog in your whole-grain bun, try a marinated chicken tender, or chicken sausage. Grilled shrimp is another tasty option. If only a hot dog will do, replace ketchup and cheese with onions and chopped veggies like avocado, jalapeños, or cabbage. Here are a few more ideas:
- For hamburgers, eat moderate portion sizes. For a Primal hamburger, opt for ground beef from grass-fed, free-range cattle, if possible. To add a flavor of the Mediterranean, season your ground lamb or beef with oregano, fresh rosemary, a generous amount of feta cheese, and a splash of lemon zest. Spread a thick kalamata olive paste on the buns for a flavorful change of pace. Ditch the grains although by using topping your burger with tomato halves, large Portobello mushroom caps, or by wrapping the fixings inside a swath of lettuce! Add a small amount of raw cheese, avocados, onions, mushrooms, and olive oil or vinaigrette.
- When barbecuing don’t use a sauce with high fructose corn syrup, sugar or ingredients like caramel color, food starch or preservatives. Google recipes for sauces using Worcestershire, tomato paste, tamarin sauce or even molasses. Or—check out a nice Primal barbecue sauce.
- Stick to salads made of fruits and vegetables, like carrots with radishes or raisins, or avocados with grapefruit or bacon. Stuff a bell pepper with onions, tomatoes, pickle bits, celery and crunchy bacon and bind them with a homemade mayo. Try some delicious recipes like Kale Chopped Salad with Maple-Almond Vinaigrette, California Cobb Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette, or very healthy Almond Salmon Salad with Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette. A Mediterranean Grain Salad would be great! Or any other Mediterranean salad creation!
- Grill corn and dab with chipotle butter to make your metabolism smile. For additional flavor, add lime. With that much flavor you might be able to skip the salt. As for the potato, trying baking it. You can up your daily vegetable intake by topping your potato with asparagus, broccoli, sprinkles of meat, and good fresh herbs.
- Eat 100% whole grain bread in moderation. Dip it in herb flavored olive oil for a snack, or top with a Mediterranean spread.
- Skip the chips. Crunchy vegetables pair nicely with dips made out of onions or clams, spinach or artichokes, or even beans or salsa.
- Fruit is always an excellent dessert. Trying skewering cubes of mixed fruit on bamboo skewer for a more dramatic flair.. However if you want a slight taste of sinful, there are both primal desserts and Mediterranean desserts to satisfy your sweet-tooth without putting your body on a sugar overload.
Be happy, eat healthy and enjoy the summer… Autumn is just a couple of months away!
Dr. Mixon and his team of medical professionals is available to help you improve your health with a full complement of services. In addition to our lab-based nutrition programs, we offer ANS (Autonomic Nervous System) testing, to help you assess your current state of health, along with treatment for neck, back and joint pain.
Please contact us if you would like more information about our Garland, TX chiropractic clinic.