Friday, July 1, 2011

Healthy July Fourth Grilling Alternatives

BBQ's are a holiday favorite. Grilling outdoors provides a great opportunity to share a delicious meal with friends and family. However, as recent reports highlight, cooking at high temperatures may produce chemicals with potential cancer-causing properties and grilling is "double trouble," according to the Harvard Health Letter.[1] The smoke that rises from the burning coals further exposes food to chemicals. To maximize flavor and support optimal health, it pays to take a few precautions.

The Harvard Health Letter suggests: 1. Cook smaller pieces because smaller pieces cook faster, reducing exposure. 2. Cook leaner means, which have less fat and produce less smoke. 3. Flip foods frequently.

If you want to skip the grilling altogether this 4th of July, here are a few of American College of Healthcare Sciences' favorite healthy, fresh, and flavorful recipes sure to be holiday hits! What are your favorite healthy holiday recipes? Post your recipes!

Garden Gazpacho
3 or 4 large tomatoes, peeled if desired, cored and quartered
1 medium Vidalia, Walla Walla, or other sweet onion, quartered
1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and cut into pieces
2 or 3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 cucumber, peeled if waxed, cut into 8 or 10 pieces
About 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar or fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Angostura bitters
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper
8 or 10 fresh basil leaves, minced

In a food processor, combine the tomatoes, onion, pepper, garlic, and cucumber. Process using the pulse button, until it is almost pureed. There should be a few bits of vegetable to bite down on; it should not be totally smooth. Stir in 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lime juice, olive oil, bitters, salt, pepper, and basil. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving and taste for seasoning; adjust with vinegar or lime juice, salt, or pepper. Serve cold garnished with croutons.

Summer Fruit Salad with Infused Lemon Herb Syrup
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 large handful of fresh lemon herb leaves, bruised
Few strips of lime zest
1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 firm ripe mango or papaya, peeled, seeded, and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small, ripe cantaloupe, seeded, and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces

Make the flavored fruit syrup by combining the water, sugar, vanilla, herbs, and zest. Bring the contents of the pan to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. When cooled to room temperature, strain the syrup and stir in the lime juice. At this point the syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Toss the mango, papaya, and pineapple in a large bowl. Pour the syrup over the fruit. Toss the mixture well. Cover the fruit and chill it for at least 1/2 hour before serving. Serve at cool room temperature.

[1] Harvard University. (2007, June). Tips for safer and healthier grilling, from the Harvard Health Letter. Retrieved from

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