Since we are heading towards the summer, am sure most of you will be attending or even hosting a few cookouts. Sadly though, most of the foods on offer during cookouts are unhealthy and
should be avoided. However, this shouldn’t have to be the case as you can simply create your own healthy cookout scheme. It is for these reasons that am going to discuss in depth five main reasons that make cookouts unhealthy and provide healthy alternatives for each.
- Overcooked Meats
Why are they unhealthy? : – If you have attended most of the cookouts where meat is being grilled, you would have noticed that overcooked meat leave burnt charred remains on the grill. Not only does the meat taste bad but it also gives rise to dangerous carcinogenic compound such as heterocyclic amines (HCA) which is harmful to your body.How to avoid overcooked meat: – This is relatively simple. All you need to do is to ensure that the grill is on low heat and that the grill has burned for a few minutes before placing on the meat. Secondly, you need to reduce the amount of time the meat cooks on the grill, this will ensure that HCAs do not get to form and the meat doesn’t get burned. Finally, marinate the meat with nutritious herbs hours before you start grilling. Research has shown that herbs contain antioxidants which help to combat HCAs.
- Processed Meat
Reason they are unhealthy: – In any cookout you won’t fail to see processed meat such as sausages and hamburgers. They are mostly devoid of nutrients and are low in quality since they contain more fat and sugar compared to their natural alternatives. For instance, hamburgers contain 250 calories per 100g while an average beef skillet steak has around 200 calories per 100g- this is a difference of 50 calories or 20%.Healthy alternatives to processed meat: – Natural meats can be more satisfying, tasty, low in calories and high in nutritional value when prepared in the right way than processed meat. You can simply prepare it by picking out your favorite natural meat be it beef, chicken, lamb or pork and place it on the grill to cook. You can enhance its flavor by marinating it hours before grilling as discussed above and enjoy a healthy grilled meat.
- White Bread
Why is it unhealthy? : – Even though white bread gets to be eaten in most cookouts, it contains a lot of carbohydrates but with very little nutrients. Since it mostly gets to be eaten with hamburgers and sausages during cookouts it’s one dish that should be avoided. For instance, a hamburger roll consists of over 100 calories and of this 80% are just carbohydrates. Carbohydrates that aren’t used up by your body get stored as body fat and if you attend a few cookouts, you will definitely add a few extra pounds.Healthy alternatives to white bread: – A perfect alternative to white bread are whole grains which contain extra fiber and nutrients. Sadly though, huge intakes of whole grains can still increase your weight since they contain a similar amount of calories as white bread. It is therefore advisable that you stick to a combination of fresh meat and vegetables and avoid bread altogether. Grilled meat and vegetables kebabs or grilled meat with salad are both excellent replacements that are low on carbohydrates and are more nutritious than bread.
- Processed Condiments
Reason processed condiments are unhealthy: – Processed condiments like barbecue sauce, mayonnaise or tomato ketchup are full of unhealthy sugars and fats that can extend your waistline thereby making them some of the foods to watch out for when attending cookouts. Barbecue sauce and tomato ketchup contain 25 calories per tablespoon while mayonnaise has a staggering 50 calories per tablespoon. Even though this might sound non-threatening, a couple of tablespoons of mayonnaise at a cookout can add 100 calories in your system during summer.Examples of healthy alternatives to processed condiments: – Going natural is the best alternative to processed condiments. There are many healthy and natural condiments you can prepare. One such condiment is salsa which is the quickest and easy to prepare.First of all take a can of chopped tomatoes, half a can of tomato paste and one finely chopped jalapeno pepper (which can be increased or reduced depending on how well and individual handle spiciness) an assortment of favorite herbs and spices (a teaspoon each of thyme, black pepper, rosemary, basil and salt will do the trick). Put all the ingredients into a saucepan that is heated on a medium to high heat and stir. Leave it to simmer for 10 minutes ensuring that you periodically. Once the ten minutes are up, pour the salsa mix into a large bowl and leave it to cool. This dish will provide approximately 15 servings, but if you looking forward to add more or reduce the amount you can simply regulate the ingredients accordingly.The good thing is that the herbs and spices provide far more nutrients than the ones you derived from regular processed condiments. Furthermore, this healthy serving of salsa consists only of 9 calories per serving which translates to less than a quarter of calories present in processed barbecue sauce, tomato ketchup or even mayonnaise.
The reason why beer is unhealthy: – Beer served at cookouts contains a lot of calories just as the food they serve. For instance, sipping a couple of 12 ounce bottle of Budweiser will add more than 145 calories to your system and the calories will continue to increase with subsequent intake of the beer. So, if you regularly attend cookouts during the summer, try as much as possible to avoid such beer.Example of healthy alternatives to beer: – The best alternative to beer is drinking zero calorie water. However, if you must drink beer during cookouts try light beers which are known to contain 30% less calories than the regular beers.
Health is very important but when it comes to cookouts it seems most people tend to forget. A couple of high calorie burgers with bread and large amounts of condiments coupled with beer is a sure way of making your calorie intake to soar over the 1000 mark. In addition there is a high risk of getting cancer from the overcooked meat. However, this can be prevented if advice given in this article is followed to the latter. What’s more you will to reduce the amount of calories from your body and at the same time protect your body from cancer causing HCAs arising from overcooked grilled meat. The next time you attend or host a cookout ensure that you prepare healthy homemade condiments, drink healthy light beers, eat plenty of vegetables and marinate your meat before grilling.