It’s that time of year again – the 4th of July BBQ that’s filled with highly processed foods, lots of refined carbohydrates and sugary treats. This year, swap out the not-so-healthy foods and bring in paleo friendly recipes that will leave you feeling light and energized afterwards. Try these easy paleo swaps for your appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts. They are flavorful, nutritious and unique, so your guests will be pleasantly surprised that a paleo BBQ could taste so good.
Instead of snacking on greasy and processed chips while waiting for the main course, serve paleo chips or roasted nuts.
Forget the Lays and Doritos, there are plenty of other, healthier options right in the produce section. How about kale chips, Brussels sprout chips or mushroom chips? Just roast these nutritious veggies in the oven until they are crispy – add salt and pepper, and any other spices that you enjoy, like cayenne. Nuts are also very versatile and they can be seasoned with herbs to give them an extra kick. Try combining almonds, rosemary, salt and ghee and toasting the mixture in a saucepan over medium heat. Ghee is a healthier, natural and saturated fat that serves as a better alternative to seed oils that can lead to inflammation.
Instead of a sugary BBQ sauce, make your own healthier version.
Combine a small can of tomato pasta, apple juice (1 cup), chili powder, hickory smoke spice, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Simmer the mixture on medium/low heat for 30 minutes and you have your own paleo-friendly BBQ sauce, without the sugar that is typically added to traditional sauces. If you don’t want to use apple juice, apple cider vinegar and honey works too.
Instead of processed hotdogs, cook up elegant and high-protein skewers.
Skewers are fun, colorful and paleo friendly. Combine proteins to make it more interesting, such as shrimp and sausage. Then add in some veggies to magnify the flavor, like zucchini, onion or tomatoes. Sprinkle on some Cajun seasoning and no one will miss the hotdogs.
Skip the buns and offer up iceberg lettuce instead.
We all love biting into a burger with both hands, and you can still do that on a paleo diet. Use thick pieces of iceberg lettuce instead of the typical hamburger bun. The refined carbohydrates from the traditional bun will spike your blood sugar levels and leave you feeling hungry again within no time. And to make this combination even more nutritious, add in avocado too. Avocados are a rich source of essential fatty acids and they provide vitamins A, B, C, E and K, plus protein, fiber and antioxidants.
Go for the fermented vegetables as side dishes.
The paleo diet includes fermented vegetables because they boost our immune systems, increase our antibodies, help to regulate our appetite and reduce sugar and refined carb cravings. These bacteria-boosting agents are also delicious and can be served as a side dish at your 4th of July BBQ. Serve sauerkraut, pickles and kimchi – all of these foods will help to improve digestion and fight inflammation.
Impress your guests with a colorful, high-protein salad.
Salads are usually an after-thought at a traditional 4th of July BBQ, but serving something fun and filling can be a crowd pleaser. Try combining nutritious and flavorful ingredients, like hard-boiled egg, dried cranberries, spinach, apple slices, mandarin orange and pine nuts. The trick is to add texture and a little sweetness, which comes from the nuts and fruit here. The eggs alone are high in protein, vitamin B12 and vitamin D – making this a healthy side dish. Also, skip the processed and high-fat salad dressings, like ranch. Instead, make your own dressing with olive oil and Dijon mustard.
Instead of processed and sugary desserts, serve fruit with a twist.
Ever try grilling fruit? You won’t be sorry – it’s delicious and paleo friendly. Try grilled peaches with coconut cream and walnuts, or grilled watermelon with balsamic dressing. Be creative – many fruits will work on the grill, even bananas, apples and figs. You don’t need the refined sugars to end your paleo BBQ; they will just intensify your sugar cravings and deregulate your blood sugar levels. Fruit is a much healthier way to go and it will give you the energy to stay up socializing for hours.
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