guilt free grilling

Guilt Free Grilling: How to Optimize Your Summertime Patio Party

Sourced from:  By B.J. Hardick

During the hot months of summertime, the barbecue is my go-to cooking method almost every weekend — if not, every evening! It’s such a treat to invite family, friends and colleagues over to my patio to enjoy organic, nutrient dense meals served fresh and hot off the grill in the sun. These types of events are beloved to households across North America from June through to August, and if they’re prepared properly, they can be nurturing to the body and brain. However, many people are unaware of the hidden ingredients in their barbecue recipes that can cause disease and lead to serious weight gain and health issues. It just takes a few, mindful changes to create a summer barbecue that will care for your body system and maintain a healthy lifestyle. In this article, we’ll discuss some great options for the perfect, nutrient rich, summer barbecue.


Everyone knows that an impeccable sauce will make your summer barbecue a success. This doesn’t mean that you have to buy a store bought, highly processed sauce that contains ingredients of which you have never heard. If you can’t pronounce the names of the ingredients on the back of the package, your sauce is likely jam packed with sodium nitrite and cancer causing additives that are damaging to your health.

If purchasing a sauce, buy one from the health food store and try something with low or no sugar.

Organic ketchup, or ketchup sweetened with no sugar is a great option. Mustard is also a pleasant choice for the barbecue, and its ingredients (turmeric, mustard seeds, paprika, vinegar) reduce your risk of harmful disease. There are also other choices like store bought hot sauces that contain simple, disease fighting ingredients like cayenne pepper. The ideal (and most fun!) choice for sauces is certainly homemade sauce.

Store bought mayonnaise is full of fat, starches and additives but homemade mayonnaise is awesome.

A personal favorite featured in my book contains simple ingredients with very healthy fats. The greatest sauces typically contain the most simple, healthy ingredients. Steak or chicken marinades can be prepared from heart healthy olive oil, fresh Himalayan sea salt, spices, pepper, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Try simple sauces with healthy oil bases to optimize the taste and nutrients of the meats and vegetables you’ll be serving at your barbecue.


Although it’s easy to pack your grocery cart with boxes of frozen burgers and packages of store bought hot dogs, these meats are highly processed! Choosing these commercial meats, which contain sugar, sodium nitrite, mechanically separated meats, and other harmful ingredients put you and your family at risk for disease. It’s so easy to make a better choice when you’re deciding which meats to enjoy on the grill. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market where you will find several 100% grass fed (instead of grain fed) or organic meat options. These types of meats are ideal because they don’t contain any harmful chemicals, GMO’s, or unidentified ingredients. When choosing meats that are organic, be sure to ensure these meats are organic as well as grass fed (not grain fed) because although they may be organic, if they are grain fed they are still not an ideal option for your body. If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, there are several delicious, wholesome vegetarian options for the grill. Portobello mushrooms can be soaked in fresh olive oil, basil and Himalayan sea-salt, then topped with savory avocados as a fresh burger alternative. You can also pick up natural, organic patties at your local whole food store that can be prepared burger style.

Watch our Inside Oaktree Episode about grass fed beef:

The Bun

Not long ago, my family discovered our go-to grain-free bun. Because this is grain-free, it’s obviously gluten-free and wheat-free! grain free bun


To maintain a healthy lifestyle, fresh, nutrient dense vegetables should be a staple on your plate.

Load up on crisp, colourful veggies to keep your belly full and your body lean. Ideally it’s important to add a plate full of raw veggies to every meal. When you consume raw vegetables, your body digests all of the valuable nutrients it needs that are vital in disease prevention and weight maintenance. Spinach salad, coleslaw or massaged kale salad are great raw veggie options. In terms of the grill, roasting is so tasty! Choose red peppers, zucchini, eggplant, or mushrooms, then rub olive oil, pepper, herbs, Himalayan sea salt for a totally appetizing veggie option.


If you’re choosing to top your burgers with cheese, or offering dairy as option on platters at your patio party, be sure to choose wisely. There’s significant evidence against drinking and consuming conventional dairy, as it can put you at risk for disease, poor digestion and weight gain. That being said, there are several alternatives to consider that are tasty and nutritious. Choose goat’s cheese or cultured dairy products that can be found in any health food store.

Try using coconut, rice or almond milk as dairy replacements for succulent desserts.

On humid summer evenings every family enjoys an ice-cold treat. Desserts can be the top culprits for weight gain, but they don’t have to be when they are prepared properly. Purchase an ice cream maker from Cuisinart, or a Vitamix, and mix natural products like stevia, organic yogurt or coconut milk to prepare healthy, homemade ice cream for your guests. Lemon, no sugar gelato is also a special treat to serve after supper, and it’s a big hit at summer parties. You can also try my rich, homemade strawberry shortcake recipe that is easy to prepare and perfect for the patio. (I love desserts that incorporate new flavours … people get pretty sick of chocolate after a while!)


When temperatures sky rocket, it’s incredibly vital to keep your body hydrated. The drinks you serve at your barbecue have the power to add unnecessary sugar, chemicals, and harmful preservatives to your diet. Be mindful when preparing the cocktails, juices and beverages you serve to your guests. Choose sugar free sparkling lemonades, fresh cucumber water and natural iced juices.

Your summertime family barbecue or evening grill session doesn’t have to be filled with unhealthy fats, sugar and additives. There are endless fun and healthy ways to maximize your grill season and maintain the healthy lifestyle you’ve worked hard for! Your guests (and your body!) will thank you when you prepare these healthy, delicious options at your next backyard patio party.

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