Savour the Flavor: Summer Barbecues

Curt Hamilton, CNN
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Summer is prime time for barbecues, yet while great fun, many barbecues are laden with health-damaging foods. That being said, great summer food doesn’t have to compromise your health. Why not try a few easy recipes that will keep your family both well and satisfied?

Whether you mix them up from scratch or take advantage of commercially prepared patties or mixes, veggie burgers blend the heartiness and familiarity of traditional grilling fare with the healthful benefits of vegetable protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The heat of grilling saps some of the wellness benefits from cooked vegetables, so include some fresh options in your side-dish choices.

Using whole foods, such as in-season fruits and vegetables, increases a barbecue’s nutritional value and flavor. Summer foods, in particular, may be higher in beta-carotene, which aids in the prevention of sun damage. Here are a few great ingredient tips to keep your barbecues as healthy and delicious as they are fun and exciting!

Brown Rice: A key to healthy eating is consuming whole, unprocessed grains, such as whole brown rice, which can help maintain a healthy body weight. A study conducted between 1984 and 1996 involving over 74,000 US female nurses concluded that eating high-fiber, whole-grain foods led to decreased weight gain over those who ate more refined grains. Additionally, white rice is devoid of 50 to 90 percent of the B vitamins and minerals found in the original grain. B-vitamin intake is closely linked to emotional well-being and energy levels, and minerals are nature’s natural tranquilizers. Eating white rice can deplete the body of these essential nutrients. However, eating fruits and vegetables rich in B vitamins and minerals can play a positive role in mental and physical health.

Broccoli: Spending a lot of time in the sun can give the body vitamin D, and it is very important to have enough of vitamins A and K to help protect from any imbalance related to higher doses of vitamin D. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins A and K, and it is also rich in phytochemicals.

The word “phyto” is Greek for plant, and studies have found that different types of phytochemicals work in different ways to prevent disease and protect us from sun damage.

Watermelon and Green Tea: Crisp, sweet watermelon is full of health benefits. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, and the red color is rich in phytochemicals that support healthy breast and prostate tissue. Drinking green tea while eating watermelon may be even more powerful! One study in China showed that regular intake of green tea, together with lycopene from fruits such as watermelon, had a stronger protective effect than either alone.

Figs: Very filling, figs satisfy a sweet tooth and, like other high-fiber foods, they can be helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. Be sure to buy organic and fresh figs, if at all possible, to avoid sulfite preservatives. Because figs are high in potassium, they are also great for maintaining healthy blood pressure.

 

Omega Burger

Makes 4 burgers

2 tablespoons garlic

1 tablespoon ginger

1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped

2 cups carrots, chopped

2 stalks (about 2 1/2 cups) celery, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons (about 1 lemon) lemon juice

1/2 cups raisins

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

2 cups Navitas Naturals

Superseed Twister powder

In your food processor, place garlic, ginger, and onion, and process into small pieces. Add carrots, celery, salt, and lemon juice, and process to mix well. Add your raisins, cinnamon, cumin, and Navitas Naturals Superseed Twister powder, and process until well blended.

Makes 4 to 6 patties. Place on a dehydrator tray, and dry at 104 degrees for 6 to 10 hours, or to desired consistency. You can then cook your patties in a pan, or on a grill, as you would any other burger.

Serving Sugestion: Enjoy with flax flatbread, or whole-grain burger buns, dressed with lettuce, onion, tomato, and a pickle.

 

Summer Pasta Salad

Give your summer pasta salad a nutritional edge by using brown-rice pasta. Whole, unprocessed grains, like brown rice can help maintain healthy body weight.

Serves 6

12 oz package brown rice pasta, cooked per package instructions

10 pepperoncini peppers, sliced

1 large red pepper, julienned

1 large yellow or orange pepper, julienned

1 cup shredded carrots

1 cup small frozen peas (thawed under warm water and drained)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup Italian dressing

Mix all ingredients together. Dress immediately before serving with your favorite Italian dressing. Do not dress salad if you plan on storing, as pasta will absorb dressing.

Recipe contributed by Allison Krohn.

 

Watermelon Matcha Greaen Tea with Mint

A cool, refreshing alternative to lemonade, watermelon green tea tantalizes the palate with the sweetness of watermelon and the crisp freshness of mint.

Serves 4

3 Matcha tea bags

2 cups of freshly juiced watermelon, no rind or seeds

2 cups hot water

1 sprig mint leaves

Matcha is a finely ground, powdered, high-quality green tea, not the same as tea powder or green tea powder. Steep tea bags for five minutes in hot water. Remove bags and let cool. Mix cooled matcha green tea, watermelon juice, and mint leaves in a glass container. Serve over crushed ice. Tea can be stored in refrigerator up to three days. Recipe contributed by Allison Krohn.

 

Kelli’s Homemade Veggie Burgers

1 (15 oz) can kidney or pinto beans, drained

and rinsed

1-2 cups rolled oats (as needed)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped

1/2 cup onions or leeks, finely chopped

1-2 carrot(s), shredded

1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 tablespoon soy sauce (or

Worcestershire sauce)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Spices and herbs to taste (Cajun, Italian, Mexican, etc.)

Throw all ingredients (start with only one cup of oatmeal) in food processor (or use a stick blender). Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add more oatmeal as needed, until patties hold together well. Chill mixture for about an hour, then shape into smallish patties (these are rich and filling, so don’t make them too big!). Chill patties several hours, or freeze and save until needed.

If your patties want to fall apart, cook them in the oven. Broil patties 4 to 6 inches from heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, until browned and heated throughout. If your patties hold together well, you can simply sauté them in a skillet. Heat a bit of olive oil and cook patties over medium-high heat 6 to 7 minutes on each side, until crisp outside and cooked through. For veggie burgers on the grill, pre-cook burgers, then reheat on the grill. Eat on pitas, whole wheat buns, or on a bed of lettuce. Dress as desired.

This recipe is flexible—all you have to do is mix up the spices to invent a Mexican, Italian, Cajun, or Curry veggie burger!

Just a note: the more finely you chop/mash the ingredients, the better the patties will hold together.

 

California Garden Roll

2 flour tortillas, 10-inch size

1/4 medium avocado, lightly mashed

6 leaves, green or red leaf lettuce

2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1 cup torn spinach leaves

1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Spread avocado on tortillas, sprinkle with ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Fold tortillas into a roll.

 

Grilled Figs

Add a twist to your salads by tossing in grilled figs. Serve them with brandy or amaretto, and you’ve got a unique backyard dessert.

6 firm, fresh figs, cut in half

Olive oil

Sea salt

Brush figs with olive oil and season with sea salt. Cook figs until tender, flesh side down. Add to salads or serve warm with a tablespoon of brandy or amaretto.

Recipe contributed by Allison Krohn.

 

Artichoke and Chickpea Salad

Makes 4 servings

6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts (or fresh)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley OR 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon of both salt and pepper

2 (19 oz) cans chickpeas or freshly cooked chickpeas

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Thinly slice artichokes and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together parsley, oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Then add artichokes, chickpeas, and Parmesan cheese.

 

Italian Veggie Burger

 

To basic veggie burger recipe from above add:

1 (extra) clove garlic, pressed or minced

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons finely shredded

Parmesan cheese

Garnish with: Mozzarella (or Provolone) cheese, tomatoes, and prepared pesto. Serve on Focaccia bread, if desired.

 

Soba Noodle and Pear Salad

Serves 2 to 3

1 package of Annie Chun’s Organic Soy Ginger Asian Meal Starter

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 English cucumber, julienne cut

1 firm pear, julienne cut (or substitute jicama)

1 scallion, thinly sliced (white and green parts)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 sheet Japanese seaweed (nori), cut into thin strips

1-2 teaspoons sesame seed

Cook noodles as directed. Rinse with cold water and drain well. Add oil to noodles (to keep from sticking) then cool completely. In a large bowl, lightly toss cooked noodles with sauce. Top off with cucumber, pear, scallion, and cilantro. Garnish with nori and sesame seeds.

 

Brie Peach Sandwiches

Makes 4 sandwiches

1/2 cup peach preserves

1 peach, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon minced green onions

1 teaspoon raspberry vinegar

1/2 cup mayonnaise

6 crusty French rolls

6 leaves butter lettuce

10 slices Brie cheese

Salt to taste

Combine peaches, green onions, vinegar, and white pepper. Put together sandwiches with the peach mixture and remaining ingredients.

 

Acai Catsup

Makes 1/2 cup

1 cup tomato, chopped

1 tablespoon Navitas Naturals Acai Powder

11/2 teaspoons Navitas Naturals Yacon Syrup

1/2 teaspoon Navitas Naturals Maca Powder

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

In a small blender, place all your ingredients. Blend smooth. This will keep for a few days in your refrigerator and is best made in a personal-sized travel blender. If using a larger blender, double or triple this recipe.

 

Broccolette Spread

Broccolette, a broccoli-Chinese kale cross, is subtly sweet with a flavor like asparagus. You’ll find this “baby broccoli” in supermarket retailers across the US, including Whole Foods and Outpost Natural Foods. This tasty spread will spice up chips and crackers as a healthy alternative to creamy dips.

Serves 4

1 medium head of broccolette

(type of broccoli)

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook broccolette in water until tender. Place cooked broccolette into an ice-water bath, then drain. In a food processor, pulse the broccolette, sesame oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper for 30 seconds. Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse for another 15 seconds. Place into a tight-fitting container and refrigerate for up to three days. Serve with your favoritecracker, chip, or vegetable.

Recipe contributed by Allison Krohn