Gather Your Tribe: The BBQ Edition

Summertime is trying so hard to bloom here in Cleveland, Ohio. The days are getting longer and the trees have gotten greener, but the sun is still having trouble stretching down to reach us through the clouds for more than an hour. I don't know about you, but I remember Junes passed characterized by blue, sunny skies in the daytime and golden sunsets dipping into Lake Erie at night…hmph.

Even if it’s raining on our fun, my tribe of fam and friends are still going to act like it’s summertime with the hope that soon the weather will soon do the same!

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Tribe Vibe

Merriam Webster defines tribe as “a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest."

I can say with confidence my tribe of fam and friends are definitely bound by a common interest in quality time involving quality food. Since I’ve been young, Sundays have been reserved for gathering around with family, sharing stories about our weeks and pitching in to create delicious and wholesome meals. The three turkeys and two hams on Thanksgiving are enough of a clue that we take our gatherings seriously, but even in the summertime our backyard barbecues sprinkled with extended family and friends are nothing short of a production.


80/20 Balance

I absolutely love spending a lazy summer Sunday staying in and grilling out with my tribe. What I don’t love is that so many popular barbecue staples contain hidden sugar, industrialized oils, and artificial colors and flavors, none of which are necessary or supportive for our health and well-being!

As a health coach, I am all about the 80/20 mindset. This means that we forgo the strict idea of perfection (100% “healthy” 100% of the time) for a more moderate goal of seeking out the nutrient-dense and whole food options 80% of the time while mindfully indulging—in whatever fashion that looks like for you— the other 20%.

If numbers seem tricky, I like to remind my clients that it is a mindset, not a calculation. In general, the 80/20 approach simply looks like focusing on eating normal, balanced meals in line with your preferences and needs when you can, and letting extras like ice cream with your family, cheesy nachos at the ballgame with your boyfriend, or a sweet tea during your trip to the South be your less frequent choices. If you have a pressing health concern or are on a restricted diet prescribed by your doctor or dietitian, utilizing a health coach (hi!) to provide meal ideas and support for your emotional well-being can be a great tool as you navigate these situations!


If you’re at a cookout this summer and the offerings aren’t the “healthiest,” don’t stress. Simply make the best choices you can and, if need be, include it in your “20%”—knowing that there are abundant vegetables and fruits to be had in future meals :)

If you’re hosting or bringing a dish to your next gathering, you have a bit more freedom to up the quality of food being shared. I look for options made without added sugar and vegetable oils like canola, soybean, and corn oil. Here’s a really great article that sums up why I exclude vegetable oils from my diet. I also prefer to limit added sugar where it doesn’t belong (because who needs sugar in their potato salad or salad dressing?!) so I can mindfully consume it where elsewhere (meaning fruits and desserts, of course).


For healthier options to bring to the the table at your next cookout that your whole tribe will love, read on for my favorite dishes and brands!


Healthy Barbecue Basics

Snacks/Apps

All of these would pair awesomely with guacamole, salsa, hummus (made with olive oil), or even my Sunny Day Ceviche!

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Sides/Condiments

  • Pasta Salad

  • Roasted potato wedges (dipped in ketchup)*

  • Homemade Coleslaw (yes, with mayo)*

  • Grilled zucchini, eggplant, red peppers, and onions

*Sir Kensington’s, Chosen Foods, Tessemae’s, and Primal Kitchen are some of my favorites for low sugar, vegetable oil-free condiments!

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Rooted Pasta salad:  2 boxes chickpea or brown rice pasta 1/2 cup Organic Valley grass-fed mozzarella, cubed  1 can black olives, sliced 1c cherry tomatoes, halved 1 large cucumber, chopped  —Prepare pasta according to directions, then rinse in cold water and transfer to a large bowl.  —Add vegetables, and dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning and salt to taste. —Pop it in the fridge until party time to serve chilled

Rooted Pasta salad:
2 boxes chickpea or brown rice pasta
1/2 cup Organic Valley grass-fed mozzarella, cubed

1 can black olives, sliced
1c cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large cucumber, chopped

—Prepare pasta according to directions, then rinse in cold water and transfer to a large bowl.
—Add vegetables, and dress with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning and salt to taste.
—Pop it in the fridge until party time to serve chilled


Mains

  • Baked/grilled chicken wings

  • Grass-fed all beef hot dogs
    —Applegate and 365 (Whole Foods brand) are great picks

  • Turkey burgers

  • Grilled chicken

  • BBQ Pulled Chicken

  • Steak and vegetable kebabs

  • Grilled shrimp skewers

  • Homemade veggie burgers

Optional but highly recommended- two of your favorite humans on this planet manning the grill!

Optional but highly recommended- two of your favorite humans on this planet manning the grill!

Baked buffalo chicken wings:  2lb organic chicken wings 1 bottle of no sugar added buffalo sauce Avocado oil  —Marinate wings overnight in a covered dish with one bottle of buffalo sauce and 2tbsp avocado oil. —When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 and 40-45 minutes, flipping halfway through. —Serve with celery sticks and some ranch!

Baked buffalo chicken wings:
2lb organic chicken wings
1 bottle of no sugar added buffalo sauce
Avocado oil

—Marinate wings overnight in a covered dish with one bottle of buffalo sauce and 2tbsp avocado oil.
—When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 and 40-45 minutes, flipping halfway through.
—Serve with celery sticks and some ranch!


Desserts

icecream
  • Fresh fruit—strawberry or watermelon
    —Beautiful, simple, and so tasty!
    —Serve with coconut whip if you’re feelin’ fancy

  • Simple Mills chocolate chip cookies with Vanilla bean ice cream
    —Maxine’s, Humboldt Fog, and Mitchell’s (CLE love!) are my picks for good ol’ vanilla ice cream made with real sugar and organic milk. If you don’t tolerate dairy well Nadamoo, made with coconut milk, is an awesome sub

  • S’mores!
    —Make the treat a fun summer activity for you and your crew by trying your hand with
    homemade marshmallows!


Did this post inspire you to shoot a text to your tribe to plan a backyard BBQ asap?! Leave a comment and let me know what’s on the menu!