Spice Up Your Summer BBQs and Picnics
WebMD gives you tips on how to make typical barbeque favorites go from average to amazing.
The beginning portion of a barbeque or picnic is a good time to introduce
new foods, because people don't normally eat appetizers to fill themselves.
"If they don't eat [the appetizer], it's OK, because the main food is
still coming," says Mary Murimi, RD, PhD, chair-elect of the international
division of the Society for Nutrition Education.
To entice hesitant diners, Murimi suggests presenting new fare in smaller,
more familiar arrangements. Instead of making a whole salad full of
strange-looking provisions, for example, she recommends slicing up fruits and
vegetables, and then serving them individually in a tray. Having toothpicks
available can help people sample the new foods at their leisure.
Tropical fruits such as mangoes, papayas, kiwis, guavas, and pineapples make
succulent starters. They are rich in vitamin C. Deep-orange fruits and
vegetables are also good sources of vitamin A.
Other ideas for starters include:
- Grilled fruits and vegetables. Corn on the cob, tomatoes,
okra, lemon, zucchini, and oranges are tasty placed on the grill with a spritz
of olive oil, or without anything on them. Plus, they are chock full of
different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You may eat them straight off
the barbeque grill, add them to salads or seafood, or make kabobs with
- Raw or grilled peppers. Although vitamin C- and A-rich
peppers are in the vegetable family, so many varieties exist that they deserve
their own listing. There are sweet peppers like the green, red, orange, and
yellow bell peppers. Chili peppers include the jalapeno, habanero, poblano, and
serrano. Chop up sweet peppers, and eat them raw. Or dip in nonfat yogurt for a
dose of calcium. Chili peppers on the grill tend to burst with flavor. Eat
straight off the grill, or add to salads, seafood, and meats.
- Stir-fried tofu. This low-calorie Asian bean curd is an
excellent source of protein and iron. Since it has little taste on its own,
tofu can be mixed in raw or stir-fried with other ingredients such as
vegetables, fruits, soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and oils, and take on
different flavors. Make sure to use sauces low in sodium, and oils low in
Sides and Sauces
Can't forgo your steak, burgers, and hotdogs? No problem. Serve sides and
sauces with your traditional picnic and barbeque fare to prevent culture
Many exotic dips and accompaniments are available in regular stores, from
salsas, to curries, to rice and breads. Just make sure you choose products that
are low in calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Opt for more nutrient-rich
items, such as whole-grain brown rice instead of white rice.
To ensure your selection is a healthy one, you can even make it yourself.
Various health-conscious recipes of foreign fare can be accessed on the
Internet and in local bookstores.