6 tips for a healthy end-of-summer BBQ

As summer comes to a close, there is no better way to celebrate than with a good old-fashioned barbeque. But before you reach for another serving of fatty ribs and creamy pasta salad, celebrity chef and Food Network host Robert Irvine says there are simple ways to make your BBQ menu healthier.

1. Switch highly-marbled red meats for pork and chicken.

“You can do some great things with pork and chicken; you can infuse its flavor by using acids [like lemon or lime juice marinades] and fresh herbs instead of all the heavy mayonnaise-based choices,” Irvine told FoxNews.com.

2. Make your own spice mix.

When it comes to seasoning meats, Irvine recommends replacing your store-bought mixes with fresh herbs you can make yourself.

“Chicken breast is a chicken breast no matter what you do to it, but how you change that flavor is by creating your own mixes and blends,” Irvine said, who is also a member of Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute. “Instead of going to the supermarket and taking a blend off the shelf, take a coffee grinder or grinding mill and make your own seasoning.”

Try this recipe from Irvine:

Cuban Dry Rub:

2 tablespoons cumin powder
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
Mix spices together.

3. Make fresh marinades.

Sugar-infused sauces are another huge calorie trap— just two tablespoons of barbecue sauce has 100 calories, and more than 10 grams of sugar.

To keep your meats healthier, Irvine recommends using citrus marinades made from fresh-squeezed lemons, limes, oranges, vinegars and grapeseed oil.

Try this flavorful recipe:

Cilantro Chimichurri:

1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch parsley

1 dash crushed red pepper
3 each garlic cloves
1 cup grapeseed oil
1 lemon, juice
2 lemons lemon zest
1 tablespoon red vinegar
2 tablespoon water
Place all ingredients together into a blender and puree well until almost smooth.

4. Control your eating throughout the day.

To make sure you don’t overindulge at your next BBQ, Irvine suggests eating smaller meals throughout the day.

“We should be eating smaller meals more frequently and allow the food to digest so it says ‘I’m full, brain’ before we start eating again. I eat seven to eight meals a day,” Irvin said.

5. Replace heavy side dishes.

When it comes to side dishes, big bowls of macaroni and potato salad are the least healthy options to go with. Instead, try replacing them with hearty grain such as quinoa or farro. Irvine loves making quinoa tabouleh.

“It’s quinoa and tabouleh mixed together and when you put fresh tomatoes and fresh herbs in it, the acid from the lemon juice is going to bring out all those amazing flavors,” Irvine said.

Quinoa Tabouleh:

1.5 quarts water
1 pound raw quinoa
1/3 cup Lemon Juice
½ cup olive oil
½ cup canola oil
2 cups small diced tomatoes (fresh)
1/3 cup finely chopped mint
¾ cup finely chopped parsley
1 bunch finely chopped scallions
Prepare quinoa as directed on the package, then spread the cooked quinoa out onto a sheet pan and cool in the fridge. Once quinoa is cooled, place it into a large mixing bowl with all other ingredients and mix well. To serve, place in a serving bowl and serve with low fat pita chips or whole grain flatbread.  

6. Rethink beverages.

To complete your healthy BBQ menu, ditch the sugary sodas and carbonated beers for a traditional iced tea that can be prepared with or without alcohol.

“For those of us who like a little extra, we can make pomegranate iced tea with vodka in it. Vodka is better for you than beer- and you can kick it up and it’s very different,” Irvine said.

Pomegranate Iced Tea:

Juice of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Sprigs of fresh mint, for muddle and garnish
8 cups sweet tea
4 cups pomegranate juice
1 cup cranberry juice
Ice, for glasses
Vodka of choice
In a mixing bowl, crush or muddle the lemon and lime juices with the brown sugar, blending the juices and sugar together. Next, thinly slice a few mint leaves and add to the juices. Then add the sweet tea, pomegranate juice and cranberry juice and mix well.

For more healthy BBQ recipes visit chefirvine.com