How to Create a Healthy BBQ Catering Event

Barbecues definitely consist of mouthwatering food and plentiful amounts of protein and carbs, but a healthy barbecue catering event can be as fulfilling as any other barbecue catering event. That’s why, if you’re planning a diet-friendly barbecue event, this article contains advice to help you prepare tasty dishes that keep guests happy while protecting their dietary goals.

Choosing the Right Ingredients: Quality Meats and Fresh Produce

Picking the right ingredients for a healthy barbecue catering cookout is just as important as choosing the right foods for a wholesome grocery list. When it comes to meat, try to go for lean and high protein options such as chicken breasts, turkey burgers or fish like salmon. Of course grilled fish like tuna or swordfish can be delicious but be aware that their fat content is higher than say a salmon fillet. If you’re skipping the meat, think about sizzling up vegetables. 

Slice up a variety of fresh veggies from bell peppers and zucchini to mushrooms and grill them to capture and bring out more of their natural flavours. Using fresh herbs and spices instead of heavy sauces can go a long way too in trimming calories and upping your taste buds happiness.

Innovative Cooking Techniques: Less Oil, More Flavor

You probably think I’m talking about old-school BBQ, which is all about oil and fat. But making healthier foods for the grill isn’t a big challenge. There’s grilling, for one thing, which means you need to use much less oil and the food retains more of its integrity (the juices stay in the food, not conventionally on your plate). Marinating meats and vegetables in herbs, spices and low-fat dressings adds lots of flavour without all the oil. And creating foil packets of fish or vegetables to steam on the grill adds a boost of flavor without any added fat.

Designing a Balanced Menu: A Mix of All Food Groups

A balanced menu should include foods from various groups. In addition to the grilled options, include whole grains such as quinoa salads or whole-wheat hamburger buns. Include all of the different salads that have leafy greens with nuts and seeds. For dessert, include fruits that can be grilled or sliced, such as grilled pineapple or peaches. Dessert with fruit will offer the sweetness we all crave without the added sugar of typical dessert treats.

Accommodating Dietary Restrictions: Options for All

Be aware of dietary restrictions; a veggie burger, portobello mushroom cap, even a tofu steak are all excellent substitutes for the more usual meaty entrees, and often even committed omnivores enjoy these options. Go ahead and label dishes that contain common allergens, making it easier for everyone to navigate your menu.

Beverage Choices: Healthy Hydration

Serve not sugary sodas or Boone’s Farm, but infused waters with sliced lemons, limes or cucumber, herbal iced teas, or homemade lemonade sweetened with honey or agave. 

Serve heaping portions of antioxidant-rich greens.

You could have the guests in a headlock if you serve too many other foods and go light on the greens – and you wouldn’t be doing anybody any favours. High-antioxidant greens are nutrient powerhouses. Fresh salads piled high with local greens and veggies make for a refreshing dish that can be used as a base for grilled or raw protein such as chicken breasts, shrimp, cubed tofu, fish, or raw milk mozzarella, depending on the theme of your feast. Infused oils such as olive oil with orange or peach, and balsamic vinegar are delicious additions to salads. 

Another option is to serve a large, mixed greens salad with an Asian dressing, complete with a trail mix featuring pumpkin seeds, cashews, sunflower seeds, almonds, raisins or cranberries, and cacao nibs. If children are attending the feast, serve kid-friendly kale chips. 

Grazing Table Buffets

Create a grazing table Buffets are great for providing guests with tons of food at once, but grazing tables are even better. Grazing tables avoid the potentially wasteful situation where hungry individuals load up on food that later goes to waste after they leave. If your house can accommodate it, set up a grazing table filled with healthy and delicious foods that guests can access throughout the night and into the wee hours of the morning. The gathering in my neighbourhood takes place in a barn.

Engaging Activities: Promote Movement and Fun

Provide ‘games’ that get everyone moving, from frisbee to volleyball to group walks. Rally the troops and make the event an active, health-promoting affair.

Healthy BBQs Are for Everyone

With the right ingredients, healthier cooking methods and menu design, it’s possible to throw a healthy BBQ catering event without sacrificing taste and enjoyment. When planning a BBQ catering menu or taking on a catering job, know that you’ll be creating a healthy BBQ when you make smart choices about the items you serve, how you cook, and how you arrange them to create a balanced menu. In the end, a healthy BBQ event (as with most things) is defined by your choices, so when inevitable variation from your original plan does happen, avoid guilt. Be cheerful – you (and your guests) will survive!

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