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Healthy BBQ Ideas: 10 Smart Tips for Your Next Cookout

Though I’m definitely an advocate for establishing some sort of summer schedule, there’s nothing quite like those long, lazy summer nights. The kids running around while you put your feet up, the smell of a delicious healthy BBQ cooking on the grill… ahhh, what could be better?!

Well, it turns out there are ways to make those summer barbecues a little bit better—by making them even healthier. In this post you’ll find my top healthy BBQ ideas.

Healthy BBQ Tip #1: Use Organic Charcoal

Unlike the charcoal you use for making your teeth white, the standard charcoal used for grilling almost always includes chemicals and nitrates like anthracite coal, treated wood or sawdust, petroleum, sodium nitrate, and borax. That is NOT what you want cooking into your food! To avoid exposure to these yucky additives, choose a natural charcoal. Try this 100 percent natural lump charcoal by Big Green Egg. It’s made with American oak and hickory wood, is easy to light, and heats up in just 10 minutes.

Healthy BBQ Tip #2: Never Clean the Grill With a Wire Brush

Wire brushes are great for getting rid of stuck-on food, but they can be very dangerous. Little pieces of wire from the brush can break off and get stuck in your food. If you ingest these little pieces of metal, it can cause a medical emergency. And it’s not as rare as you might think—researchers estimate there are about 130 cases per year in the United States. Try a heavy-duty sponge, a brush made of natural fibers, or a wooden scraper instead.

Healthy BBQ Tip #3: Swap Processed Meats for Clean Proteins

There are so many reasons to skip hot dogs—they are full of nitrates and have been linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes and just one hot dog has a quarter of the maximum daily recommendation for sodium! If you’re serving hamburgers, make sure to use grass-fed beef. However, to shake up your healthy BBQ, the best choices are low mercury fish (salmon, trout, and mackerel are all great options!) and marinated chicken breast and turkey burgers are always a nice change of pace!

Healthy BBQ Tip #4: Marinate Your Food

Marinating your food not only makes it taste great, but it also may help reduce carcinogens caused by grilling. Seriously! One study found that marinades that contain thyme, sage, and garlic reduced the amount of carcinogens in food by as much as 88 percent. Another study found that rosemary has similar benefits—this herb reduced carcinogens by up to 90 percent. And marinating beef in beer or wine for six hours may have similar effects. Another study found that this can reduce the amount of carcinogens by up to 40 percent.

Try these delicious marinades:

Rosemary, Thyme, Garlic, and Lemon

Lemon and Herb

Honey Garlic



Healthy BBQ Tip #5: Flip Frequently

A study published in the Journal of Food Protection found that flipping burgers every 30 seconds was most effective in reducing E. coli. Another study found that, when combined with low-heat cooking, frequent flipping also reduced the level of carcinogens in food. Though these studies were specific to burgers, it may be worth cooking other meat this way, too.

Healthy BBQ Tip #6: Use Better Buns

Wrap burgers or grilled chicken in Swiss chard to up your intake of vitamins K, A, and C, magnesium, potassium, iron, and fiber. Kale, green cabbage, and lettuce are other great options.

If the bun is your favorite part, you can still have a healthy BBQ by using sprouted buns.

Healthy BBQ Tip #7: Make Your Own Condiments

Most store-bought condiments, like barbecue sauce and ketchup, are loaded with added sugar and yucky preservatives. Your best bet is to make your own. Try these homemade recipes for a healthy BBQ:


Barbecue Sauce

Honey Mustard


If you prefer to use store-bought, try these products for a healthy BBQ:


Barbecue Sauce



Healthy BBQ Tip #8: Opt for Healthier Sides

Conventional potato salad, macaroni salad, and mayo-based coleslaws all have one thing in common: They’re full of bad oils and sugars. But skipping out on these heavy options don’t have to mean sacrificing taste. Instead try foods that are just as flavorful, but way healthier. Try these recipes for a healthy BBQ instead:

Instead of traditional potato salad, try Green Bean, Potato, and Tarragon Salad

Instead of creamy coleslaw, try Summer Coleslaw

Instead of macaroni salad, try Greek Style Black Bean Pasta Salad

Other great options include homemade sauerkraut, fermented salsa, grilled portobello mushrooms, and organic corn on the cob (if you can find it!).

If you’re serving any dips with your meal, swap chips for raw veggies—they provide the same crunch, but don’t have any of the preservatives, fat, or extra calories. (If you want healthy chips, try Jackson’s Honest Chips or any potato chips cooked in olive oil, usually available at heath food stores or Trader Joe’s.)

Healthy BBQ Tip #9: Grill Dessert

Skipping cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and other sweat treats doesn’t have to leave you wanting more. Once the main course is finished, try grilling pineapple or stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, and plums). YUM!

How About You?

What tips do you have for other readers? Share your best healthy BBQ ideas below.

The post Healthy BBQ Ideas: 10 Smart Tips for Your Next Cookout appeared first on Mama Natural.

Here is another great summer BBQ idea!

Chicken-Pepper-Bacon Bites for the Grill or Oven (great freezer meal!)

Chicken-Pepper-Bacon Bites for the Grill or Oven (great freezer meal!)


I do believe I could eat these Chicken Pepper Bacon Bites 7 times a week and never get sick of them.  They have just enough bite to give flavor, and since they’re on a stick they are perfect for big gatherings where parents are up and down with the kids or everyone is standing and mingling while eating.

These pepper-chicken-bacon bites are fun to eat, tasty, and can be made on the grill or baked in the oven. These always fly off the table at a potluck too!

To plan ahead for a busy week, we snip the ends of the wooden skewers with wire clippers and they fit nicely in a freezer bag. Chicken Pepper Poppers for BBQs and Potlucks   Print Prep time 20 mins Cook time 25 mins Total time 45 mins   These are always a hit at potlucks. Keep in the freezer for fast food that you’ll love! Author: Cara Comini Recipe type: Main Dish Cuisine: Paleo, Gluten Free, GAPS Diet, Grain Free, BBQ, Grill Serves: 4 Ingredients 2 pounds boneless chicken, thighs are great (find here) 4-6 Anaheim chilies or 16 sweet peppers (pictured) ½ pound bacon (find sugar-free bacon here) 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ½ teaspoon sea salt Freshly-ground black pepper to taste Directions If grilling, soak wooden skewersin water for 20 minutes or longer. If baking, this step is not necessary. Freeze the chicken for 20 minutes (set a timer so you don’t forget!) so it is easier to cut. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle chicken pieces evenly with smoked paprika, sea salt, and black pepper. Wash the chilies, cut the stem off, and cut a slit down the side. Use your finger, under running water, to remove seeds. Cut chilies into 2-inch long segments for the Anaheims, or use the whole sweet chilies. Preheat oven to 425* or the grill to medium-high. Cut bacon in half crosswise (making two shorter strips). Stuff a bite sized piece of chicken into a pepper piece, then wrap tightly around the pepper with a bacon piece, and stick the whole roll up on a wooden skewer. Push the roll up all the way to the end and then continue with the chicken/pepper/bacon wraps, spacing them about ⅛ – ¼ inch apart on the skewer, 4-6 to a skewer. Any extras of anything can be put on its own skewer. Bake for 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and bacon is crispy. To grill, place meat over the flame and try to aim the uncovered parts of the skewers to be over the less-hot parts of the grill. Check every 10 minutes and rotate, moving skewers as needed to hotter parts of the grill to cook evenly. Cook for approximately 30 minutes total. Nutrition Information Serving size: 1 skewer Calories: 533 Fat: 28 Carbohydrates: 1 Sugar: 1 Protein: 64 3.5.3226

The post Chicken-Pepper-Bacon Bites for the Grill or Oven (great freezer meal!) appeared first on Health, Home, & Happiness.

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