Heuser Health

 

Grill Up a Healthy 4th of July Cookout

By: Lauren Berryman

Now that summer cookouts are in full swing, enjoy surrounding yourself with family and friends. Here is a healthy twist to your 4th of July cookout that will surely set off fireworks (see recipes below).

 

One of the best parts of cooking out is grilling. And, grilling is a healthier way to prepare foods. However, before you fire up the grill, remember that the unhealthy part of most cookouts is the abundance of red and processed meats, including hamburgers, hotdogs and bratwursts, which so many Americans love.

However, processed meats are linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and cancers. 1 There are healthy (and tasty) alternatives. For example, grilled chicken and black bean burgers are just a couple options.

 

As always, everything in moderation is okay for our health. While red meat consumed in excess is unhealthy, every so often it is fine to eat because it is high in iron, vitamin B12 and protein. 2

 

If you do decide to eat a classic hamburger, the bun is an easy way to pack on the calories and carbohydrates. So, try a wheat option or even go bun-less.

Now for the sides. Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, and baked beans are a classic cookout side item. A good rule of thumb is that homemade food is generally healthier than store-bought foods, especially since you are aware of what ingredients go into the food. Canned baked beans are often high in sugar and salt, so be cautious of how much you add when making them at home.

 

Additionally, corn on the cob is a favorite vegetable option at cookouts, just be wary of what you put on it. Butter is a saturated fat and, therefore, “may increase levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL)” and “may increase a person’s risk of heart disease.” 3

 

Raw fruits and vegetables are always a safe and tasty bet. Try dipping your veggies in hummus instead of dressing, too. Consisting primarily of chickpeas, hummus is high in protein and fiber and helps lower the chance of heart disease. 4

 

Now for everyone’s favorite topic: dessert. This is an easy category to get carried away with. But, a great, healthy option for both kids and adults is popsicles. Not the kind that are high in added sugar, but rather homemade ones. They are so easy to make and are a refreshing choice when dining outside. Just grab a couple of your favorite fruits, blend them, fill a popsicle mold, freeze, and enjoy.

 

Time to get grilling. Happy Independence Day!

 

Recipes:

  • Black Bean Burger: https://simple-veganista.com/smoky-black-bean-burger/
  • Grilled Chicken Variations: https://www.cookinglight.com/entertaining/menus-for-entertaining/grilled-chicken-recipes
  • Vegan Baked Beans: https://simple-veganista.com/healthy-baked-beans-instant-pot/
  • Hummus: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/hummus/
  • Fresh Popsicles: https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g830/popsicle-recipes-0709/?slide=10

 

References:

  1. Arnarson, Atli. “Why Processed Meat Is Bad For You.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 4 June 2017, www.healthline.com/nutrition/why-processed-meat-is-bad.
  2. Lee, Elizabeth. “Is Eating Red Meat Bad for Your Health?” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-truth-about-red-meat#1.
  3. D’Souza, Gillian. “Saturated vs. Unsaturated Fats: Which Is Better for You?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 27 Apr. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321655.php.
  4. Raman, Ryan. “Is Hummus Healthy? Top 8 Benefits of Hummus.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 2 May 2018, www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-hummus-healthy.