Thursday, May 24, 2012

Healthy BBQ

First things first... I'm back from vacation.   No, I haven't given up on blogging about healthy recipes and fitness tips... I just took the time off to disconnect completely.  It was well worth it.  It's been a very long time since I stepped away from my job for more than a week and it's been even longer since I tossed my iphone to the side.  

Results? Serious relaxation, a clear head, and an even greater appreciation for simplicity.  That being said, as I've mentioned time and time again... being healthy is not only about the physical.  It is just as important to be healthy, mentally.  So, my suggestion?  Even if you don't have a vacation coming up... make sure that you take time to yourself once a week to disconnect and get a clear head. I always believe in finding a balance and it's very hard to do that if iphone/blackberry is glued to the hand 24/7.  Step away, take a break.

Enough about that... I, once again, asked my friends what they wanted to read about in the next post.   The consensus?  Healthy BBQ.  What perfect timing for that!

BBQ is eassssyyyy to make healthy.  Here are a couple of my favorite meals/sides/etc.

1. Italian Pasta Salad
Need? Protein Plus or Whole Wheat Pasta (preferably). It's not necessary but it does, of course, make the dish healthier. I like using gemeli... it has a nice al dente bite and mixes well with the other ingredients.  Here's the deal with pasta salad... I never put mayonnaise in it.  It doesn't taste good, it can go bad in the sun, and it's unhealthy.  Here's how my family makes it...
- Cook pasta and then rinse with cold water to cool it off.  You won't want to blend the ingredients while it's still warm
- Add vegetables - anything that is in season! (I like mixing roasted red peppers, artichokes, capers, julienne orange peppers, grilled portobellos, grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini and summer squash)  But really, you can use anything you like.
- Add feta 
- Add grilled chicken (not necessary if you are vegetarian)
- Dressing: In a separate small bowl, mix extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a couple pinches of sugar and salt.  That's it! Dress, chill, and serve!

2. Ground turkey or chicken burgers
Take ground turkey or chicken and mix it with some parmesan (this will add a little bit of fat to the burger to make it juicy - it will still be leaner than beef) chopped basil, chopped garlic, chopped onions, chopped parsley.  Grill and serve (remember not to press down on the burger while it's grilling!

3. Kebabs (these are my fav and they are very pretty, too)
I am usually in charge of making kebabs.  They are always a hit!  Kebabs never fail... everyone loves them.  And, they are SO EASY!
First, soak the skewers in water so that they don't burn on the grill.  Next, take the following ingredients and chop into 1 1/2 inch squares.
- Red onions
- Red peppers
- Orange Peppers
- Mushrooms
- Chicken and/or Lean steak (marinate in olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, lemon, salt, and parsley in a big ziploc bag in the fridge for at least a few hours, preferably overnight, before skewering)
Next, layer the chunks of veggies onto the skewers... I usually use about two pieces of meat per skewer.  Then, drizzle with a bit more extra virgin olive oil and salt - then toss on tin foil on the grill.

4. Grilled vegetables.  So easy and so tasty.  Use local vegetables.... around here summer squash, zuccini, and eggplant are plentiful in the summer.  Slice, then drizzle with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper.  Throw them on tin foil on the grill until done.

Have a FANTASTIC Memorial Day Weekend, everyone!  Enjoy the time with family & friends :)
My dad grilling my kebabs on Father's Day last year (not exactly a striking picture of us, but ignore that)
My nephew munching on kebabs... you'll see my mom's pasta salad on the right. Looks like she used whole wheat rotini and definitely some pea pods.  Oh, and that's sangria in the front.

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