The Fourth of July is the reason to celebrate many things: our nation’s history, our democratic tradition, and our founding fathers. It’s also the time to celebrate family and friends. And, what better way to do that than by hosting a summer barbecue?
Richard Jarmusz, Executive Chef at the UVM Medical Center, recommends how you can make your barbecue not only delicious, but also healthy, nutritious, and local.
1. Add seasonal vegetables to your menu.
Create a simple salad using some healthy ingredients, such as black beans, lentils, wheat berries, quinoa or chick peas combined with onions, tomato, carrots, celery, or roasted vegetables, like eggplant, corn, and zucchini. Toss with your favorite spices, olive oil and flavored vinegar, then finish with a pinch of salt.
2. Choose lean cuts.
As a chef, fat is flavor. That said, you want to stay healthy. So, cook the meat slow so that as it cooks the fat just melts off and adds flavors as it bastes itself. A good rule of thumb is to leave an eighth-of-an-inch of fat on your meat. For beef, use cuts like beef tender loin, top round, eye round, and ground 90 percent lean. For pork, use the pork tender loin, rib chops with bone or boneless center, cut pork chop, and 90 percent lean ground pork. With poultry, use the breast meat skinless (Remember not to overcook it as chicken has a tendency to dry out).
3. Go fishing.
Fish are a great choice for your barbecue! Stick with salmon, swordfish, and mackerel. These are firmer fish and will hold up better against your grill. Although there are many different techniques for grilling fish, try this simple one: Skewer wild shrimp with peppers and onions, and marinate them with rosemary and lemon juice for 20 minutes. Enhance flavor by using wood chips and serving your fish with fresh fruit salsa, such as pineapple. Avoid purchasing farm-raised fish due to the environmental impact they have.
4. Grill some veggies.
I’ve grilled just about everything – and you can, too! One of my summertime favorites is to pick kale fresh out of the garden, wash it, and break it into 2” pieces, then toss it with freshly chopped garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. On the grill, place your vegetable grilling basket, add kale, and toss every couple of minutes until the kale is bright green and a little crispy. This makes a great side dish.
5. Enjoy a “berry” delicious dessert.
A strawberry is one the fresher choices this time of year. They are local and the best part is that you can go to your favorite farm and pick them yourself. Strawberries are high in antioxidants; eat them plain as a great snack or as an (almost) guilt-free dessert. Our family favorite is strawberry shortcake with sweet biscuits and freshly whipped cream. Add a special twist to the biscuit by adding mint to the dough.
Want more ideas? Check out our Pinterest recipe boards!
Richard Jarmusz is executive chef at the University of Vermont Medical Center. Learn more about Nutrition Services at the UVM Medical Center.