5 Tips to make your summer menu healthier!

August 25, 2022

Summer time enjoyment often means more delicious barbecues and social eating! With a few adjustments we can make our barbecuing safer and keep your plate healthy all year long.

Grill Foods Safely

High-fat meat that drips on the grill when you’re cooking causes smoke, which may deposit carcinogens on the meat. Other cell-damaging compounds may also form when meats are grilled at high temperatures, especially if they’re cooked until well-done or charred. Don’t overcook your meat or poultry.

Following these tips can make your grilled meats and poultry tasty and safe:

Cook at a lower temperature. This usually only adds a few minutes to cooking and produces substantially fewer carcinogens.

Make sure grates are clean and oiled to prevent sticking. Residual meat and fat drippings on grates can continue to cook and become carcinogenic.

Choose lean meats (including white instead of dark poultry) and remove skin to avoid flare-ups and smoke

Use a marinade. Studies have shown that marinating meat 30 minutes before grilling decreases carcinogen formation by up to 96 percent. Add sweet sauces like barbecue during the last few minutes to avoid charring.

Flip meat frequently to decrease carcinogens that may arise.

Set one side of a gas grill to medium-high and the other to low, or build a fire on only one side of a charcoal grill. Point thicker ends of meat toward the hot side to cook more evenly.

Don’t eat charred portions of meat; instead, cut them off.

Increase the fruits and veggies on your plate since they don’t form carcinogens when grilled.

Ways To Add More Fruits And Vegetables To The Menu

Luckily, summer’s produce selection is abundant.

A surprising way to enjoy summer-fresh fruits is on the grill. Also, making your own fresh salsas, salads, hummus and guacamole enables you to select the flavors you like and helps you get the nutritious benefits of your produce without unnecessary additives.

Here Are More Ideas For Getting Extra Fruits And Veggies Into Your Diet This Summer:

Serve healthy munchies as appetizers. Set out bowls of veggies, including celery, carrots, and broccoli cut up and ready for snacking. Serve with salsa, spinach dip or hummus—remember one-half cup counts as a single serving.

Make a salad or stir fry as your entrée. Use lots of vegetables which will help ensure meat and poultry doesn’t make up most of your entree.

Start the day with a protein-packed vegetable omelet or scrambled eggs cooked with cut-up vegetables.

Drink your veggies. Throw spinach in your smoothies to increase your veggies. Adding berries will keep your smoothie tasting sweet enough to enjoy!

Creatively Substitute Ingredients

Many recipes for summertime feature sugar, salt and high-fat ingredients. Using some creativity, you can find ways to improve the nutritional impact of your favorite dishes.

Here Are A Few Ideas:

Hold the mayo. Try a new taste-twist on traditional potato or pasta salad. For a creamy dressing, combine Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. This is easier to do at home but small changes make a difference!

Swap the sauce. Instead of barbecue sauce, which is notoriously high in sugar, experiment by topping your favorite cooked protein with a tomato salsa made with fresh cilantro and garlic or an avocado mango salsa (see recipe below). Also, a dry rub made of herbs and spices makes a healthy addition.

Cut the sugar. You can reduce sugar in recipes by about 25 percent without noticeable differences, including baked items. When reducing sugar, you may need to increase the liquid in a recipe.

Increase your water intake. It’s important to stay hydrated all year-round, but when it’s warm outside, your body loses more fluid through perspiration, so you need to drink more to avoid becoming dehydrated.

So how much water do you need? A good goal is to drink eight cups. During summer heat or when exercising often 10-12 cups is necessary to replenish lost fluids.

Electrolytes are minerals that are critical in maintaining key body functions. While many sports drinks are supplemented with electrolytes, you’ll want to avoid brands with sugar and other additives. Coconut water is a great way to replace electrolytes without the sugar. A diet with lots of variety also ensures you are replacing electrolytes.

(The information provided in this article does not replace medical treatment.)



  • 5 ounces diced from 1 medium avocado
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced- optional
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients and let it marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.