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Spice Up Your Summer BBQs and Picnics

WebMD gives you tips on how to make typical barbeque favorites go from average to amazing.

Sides and Sauces continued...

Appetizing substitutions can also often be made to boost nutritionnutrition and lower less-desired items.

Instead of using salt on a dish, for example, experiment with fresh herbs and spices, suggests Garth Graham, MD, MPH, deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Minority Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He recommends items such as cilantro, oregano, serrano peppers, minced garlic, and onions.

Additional ideas for sides and sauces include:

  • Tortillas. Bake this low-fat Hispanic bread, grill it, or heat it up in a microwave or pan. Perdomo suggests wrapping the tortillas around lean meats, fishes, and vegetables.
  • Nan. This bread can be purchased in Indian grocery stores. It is a good source of complex carbohydrates, and can be eaten by itself or dipped in different sauces.
  • Beans. With so many varieties such the pinto, black, red kidney, and lentil, there are many ways to prepare this fiber-filled legume. You can open up a can of beans, or boil the dried versions in water. Perdomo, who is of Latin American origin, likes to add cilantro, onions, and tomatoes to her beans.
  • Salsas. There are different types of salsas, from the pico de gallo to the salsa verde to salsa roja. Although salsas are mostly associated with Latin Americans, Murimi says Kenyans have their own version of it. She likes to mix tomatoes, green pepper, green onions, and onions. For a sweet and sour taste, she adds in mangoes and pineapples.

The Main Course

Some people cannot imagine a barbeque or picnic without the sizzle of steaks or burgers. That's fine as long as you veer toward the leaner options.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the leanest beef cuts include round steaks and roasts (round eye, top round, bottom round, round tip), top loin, top sirloin, and chuck shoulder and arm roasts. The leanest pork options include pork loin, tenderloin, center loin, and ham.

To ensure you get the healthiest kind of ground beef, look for the label that says it is at least 90% lean.

Instead of frying or breading meats and seafood, try broiling, grilling, roasting, poaching, or boiling them.

Here are other ways of ensuring a healthy and exotic entrée:

  • Marinate meats with sauces that are low in fat, sodium, sugar, and calories. Try the Indian chicken Tikka, which combines low-fat yogurt, lemon, salt, onion, garlic, ginger, cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, cumin, cloves, black peppercorns, and nutmeg. Lalita Kaul, RD, PhD, a spokeswoman for the ADA, and a professor of nutritionnutrition at Howard University Medical School in Washington, suggests adding fresh, hot green chili to add a kick to the marinade.
  • Go Mexican and add fajita, taco, enchilada, and burrito mixes to your lean meats. Mix in onions, garlic, and cilantro for extra flavor.
  • Serve meats with fresh salsa on top. In Dorfman's The Tropical Diet, there is a recipe for Island Pork with a colorful fruit salsa. The salsa contains chopped mango pieces, Tabasco sauce, chopped red bell peppers, pineapple chunks, fresh cilantro, and chopped red onions.

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