Summer Means Backyard BBQs: Ways to Enjoy Healthy Outdoor Dining

We can’t think of summer without thinking about backyard BBQs. We think of the sizzling grill, the wafting aroma of rich, sweet smoke of barbecued meats, and the laughter in the air. But before you start putting up outdoor decorations and assigning guests with side dishes, we’re here to give you tips on how to enjoy summer dining the healthy way.

Grill the healthy way

Barbecued food is distinct because of its smoky flavor and visible char marks. Unfortunately, charred grill marks mean the food has been exposed to high heat. This leads to the carcinogenic chemical formation of heterocyclic amines (HCA) and increases cancer risk. Cancer-causing chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) also can form when fat and oil from marinades drip into the coals and flames.

Aim for medium-cooked rather than well-done and burnt to reduce the formation of carcinogenic chemicals on your grilled food. Using marinades with little or no oil also helps lower the risk of PAH. Pre-cooking meat is a good trick that keeps the grilling time shorter and reduces the formation of carcinogens. All foods can be pre-cooked in a pan or microwave and finished on the grill. Also, by flipping the meat on the grill often, you can lower the meat’s exposure to high heat while still achieving that desired smoky flavor.

Offer plenty of grillable vegetables, which are not only healthier than meat but cook faster and, therefore, spend less time on the grill. Some delicious vegetables include bell peppers, mushrooms, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, and squash. Other healthy substitutes for red meat are fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, mackerel, swordfish, and tuna.

Don’t forget sun protection

Many of us have been looking forward to the warmth of the sun all year, especially those that experience harsh winters. However, the sun’s rays expose us to UV radiation, increasing our risk for skin cancer. So, don’t overlook the potential dangers of spending too much time outside, particularly if you’re planning a morning or afternoon backyard barbecue.

If you’re a guest at a summer barbecue, don’t forget to protect your skin with sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on areas that often get ignored, such as the scalp, ears, eyelids, lips, and the top of the feet. Also, don’t forget to reapply every two hours or sooner if you sweat or swim in the pool. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses also offer good sun protection.

If you’re hosting a backyard BBQ this summer, keep your guests’ health in mind. Bring out extra sunscreen for everyone to use. If possible, provide guests with plenty of shaded areas, which you can achieve with large patio umbrellas or backyard tents. Be a responsible host by paying attention to signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, particularly if young children and older citizens are at your party.

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