Summer is flying by, and we want to take full advantage of it, making time for barbeques and picnics, ballgames and beaches. Personally, I’ve put my yoga studio membership on hold so I can spend my active time outdoors–hiking, doing the Grouse Grind, kayaking, and cycling. So far, I’ve also been to one Vancouver Canadians game and one Whitecaps game. There simply isn’t enough time to do as much as I’d like (which means my blogging has also fallen by the wayside, as this is my first for the month of July).
I love the summer and all it’s glorious fresh food options. My fridge is full of berries. Right now I have strawberries, blueberries, and tayberries (yes, tayberries–so many delicious berry options!). Farmer’s markets are in full swing, so you can stock up on watermelon, corn on the cob, peaches, cherries, a wide array of greens, and perhaps some foods you’ve never tried.
But, sometimes I feel like food options are so limited when I head to a ballgame or barbeque. Would you like a burger or hotdog? Vegetarians (sometimes) get the choice of veggie burger or veggie hotdog. I find it a bit crazy that Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is encouraging people to host one of 150 BBQs as a fundraiser this summer. Don’t get me wrong. They do great work to raise awareness and funds for research and treatment, and BBQs are not a bad idea. But their image for it shows foods that would be hard for most IBD sufferers to handle–steak, hotdog, burger, and sausage. What about all the other options for barbequing? Or BBQ side dishes? Haven’t they read the research on cancer as a result of the chemicals produced when meat is cooked at high temperatures, like barbequed meat?
Here are some healthy things you can bring or do at the next BBQ, ballgame, or picnic you attend.
Other BBQable foods
While the charred parts of barbequed foods are delicious to many of us, you really shouldn’t eat too many of those, as those yummy burnt bits may contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). BBQ’d (and cured/smoked) meat is even worse, as it also contains heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Since both PAHs and HCAs can cause changes in your DNA that may result in cancer (not mutant superpowers), you want to avoid those. Or, at the very least, limit them.
If you want to enjoy BBQ food, here are some simple options:
- Don’t overly char any of the following. You can scrape off the bigger burnt bits too.
- Grill skewered veggies (so many choices for grillable veggies, from zucchini, cauliflower, and asparagus to eggplant, squash, and even romaine lettuce). Marinated or not, they are delicious, and you can get just a very light char and still enjoy them.
- Speaking of grilled vegetables, portobello mushrooms make the best burgers! I’ve shared this portobello burger recipe already.
- I like the mushroom burger I just mentioned because it’s super easy. I’m a bit too lazy to make my own veggie burgers, but if you’re a better chef than me (you probably are), here’s a great vegan, gluten-free black bean burger option. Or, try this one even I managed to make awhile back. Or, get creative and give this pumpkin burger a try (let me know what it’s like, if you make this one!).
- Grill fruit. Yup. So many options. Peaches, watermelon, avocado (drooling now), even berries on a skewer.
- Make tin foil packets of fish and veggies to throw on the BBQ.
- Grilled veggies gazpacho. Yes, gazpacho is normally made with raw veggies, but then there’s this. A bit more effort, but yum.
- Salsa is delicious year-round, but the use of fresh seasonal corn makes it that much more scrumptious. Grilled corn salsa, get in my belly!
Potato salad and coleslaw alternatives
Yes, I like both of these. But, no, I don’t like them saturated in mayonnaise. I find I lose the subtle flavours of the fresh produce if someone is overly generous with the mayo. Here are some recipes I found that would make great side (or main) dishes at a picnic or barbeque.
- Cucumber salad is a nice cooling option. This one uses yogurt to add the creaminess. Their bloggers have a (somewhat rude) sense of humour, as you can see from the description below their photo.
- Slaw with more than cabbage and carrots. So many veggies can be added to a slaw, including zucchini, peppers, radish, and squash. Instead of a mayo-based dressing, use extra virgin olive oil with apple cider vinegar.
- Enjoy the creaminess of a potato salad that uses avocado instead of mayo.
- Chickpea fries. Ok, this I gotta try! That, and pretty much every other recipe listed here.
- Shakes/smoothies and juices. Hot weather time is the right time of year to enjoy more raw foods, and I love me a smoothie bowl like this one I shared last month or like the image here, pre-blending.
Snacks to take (sneak) into the ballgame
Ok, so don’t blame me if you get caught carrying in food at a “no outside food allowed” event. But, if you’re allowed (or really good at hiding contraband food), here are some finger foods you can enjoy.
- Crispy roasted chickpeas. This site lists a bunch of recipes. Or look for great options of pre-made ones in your local grocery store.
- Your own mixed nuts and seeds or bulk food bin gorp (i.e. trail mix). Mine always has to have just a bit of dark chocolate (unless the temp outside is too hot and melty for the mix), and I also love to add in goji berries.
- Bean chips, rice chips, crispy peas. There are a growing number of choices for healthier (in small amounts still) or bagged snacks.
- Protein balls. This one with a nut butter base or this also modifiable one I’ve made many times over. I usually press them into a square or rectangular pan and then cut them into squares, instead of rolling into balls (takes longer).
- If you can take in a cooler, and if it’s a hot day and you’re craving a freezie, make your own with tea or juice. I made kombucha popsicles.