Spice Up Your Summer BBQs and Picnics
WebMD gives you tips on how to make typical barbeque favorites go from average to amazing.
By Dulce Zamora
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Want to add healthy sizzle to your summer barbeques and picnics, without sacrificing taste? It's possible, thanks to a dizzying array of ingredients and ideas stirring in America's melting pot.
Don't worry, this doesn't necessarily mean giving up your favorite foods or slaving over a complicated recipe.
"You can have a traditional BBQ and accommodate all your friends with the same basics -- the burgers, meat, chicken, salad, and corn on the cob -- and season it with a variety of different toppings and accompaniments," explains Lisa Dorfman, MSRD, a national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA), and author of The Tropical Diet.
A Cornucopia of Choices
Most mainstream grocery stores have powdered seasonings, salsas, sauces, spices, drinks, fruits, and vegetables from all cultures that are easy to serve with barbeque and picnic favorites.
You can even use familiar ingredients to create exotic dishes, which can both intrigue and appease the most conservative diner:
To really impress your family and friends, bring something completely different to the picnic table.
Malena Perdomo, RD, the Latin Nutrition spokeswoman for the ADA, recommends trying a prickly pear cactus, called Nopal, which can be bought in some urban supermarkets and Mexican grocery stores. The thorny vegetable, which tastes like a lemony and salty green bean, is peeled, boiled, or grilled, and then added to dips, salads, soups, and meats.
Nopales -- the plural form of Nopal -- are especially rich in fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin A.
From the exotic Nopales to the common lemon, Americans do, indeed, have a lot of choices when it comes to culturally diverse and healthy fare.
If the above sampling of foods has whetted your appetite for something different this summer, make sure to read on. WebMD has a few more scrumptious and nutritious options, provided by a few ADA dietitians and other health experts.
We've broken down the ideas by the course -- from the appetizers, to the sides and sauces, to entrees, to desserts and drinks. Give them a try, and discover a world of delicious, healthy eating.
The beginning portion of a barbeque or picnic is a good time to introduce new foods, because people don't normally eat appetizers to fill themselves.
"If they don't eat [the appetizer], it's OK, because the main food is still coming," says Mary Murimi, RD, PhD, chair-elect of the international division of the Society for Nutrition Education.
To entice hesitant diners, Murimi suggests presenting new fare in smaller, more familiar arrangements. Instead of making a whole salad full of strange-looking provisions, for example, she recommends slicing up fruits and vegetables, and then serving them individually in a tray. Having toothpicks available can help people sample the new foods at their leisure.
Tropical fruits such as mangoes, papayas, kiwis, guavas, and pineapples make succulent starters. They are rich in vitamin C. Deep-orange fruits and vegetables are also good sources of vitamin A.
Other ideas for starters include: