Originally Published: May 5, 2017 6 a.m.
With family and friends gathering to celebrate all summer long, try a new and healthy twist on some backyard barbecue essentials.
Dishing on Sides
Meats may be the star of the show, but no backyard barbecue is complete without side dishes. From slaws and salads to fresh fruits and veggies, making your own side dishes from scratch allows for creativity and control of what goes onto your plate.
Switch up your coleslaw by shredding crisp, tart apples such as Granny Smith in your blender and toss with grated carrots, poppy seeds, white vinegar and raisins. For a tasty alternative to traditional potato salad, try blending boiled new potatoes with smoky bacon, Dijon mustard and mayonnaise.
The grill isn’t just for meat — fruits and veggies take on an entirely new flavor profile when lightly grilled. Prepare a vegetable platter with an array of homemade dressings for dipping, or top with a parmesan balsamic vinaigrette.
For a sweet treat without the guilt, grill fruits — such as pineapple, peaches, plums and nectarines — for a caramelized crust and add a scoop of ice cream to make a decadent dessert.
Spice it Up!
While everyone loves a classic hot dog or a juicy hamburger, the preservatives and calories found in these seasonal staples, and their condiment companions, don’t properly fuel you for an active summer gathering. Instead, consider healthier alternatives like grilled chicken or a lean cut of meat. These choices will be anything but boring when paired with fresh, homemade marinades, dry rubs or salsas.
Create dressings, spice blends and other toppers to season your favorite grilled goodies. New high-tech blenders, such as the Vitamix A2500 Ascent Series Blender, can makes this more convenient. Its 8-ounce Self-Detect containers are the right size for creating and storing small batches.
For an unexpected fruity flavor paired with your main course, try a light, tropical avocado salsa, which is delicious with grilled chicken. For more of that classic barbecue flavor, use an apricot-ancho barbecue glaze on your seafood and baby back rib skewers.
The creativity shouldn’t end with your food. Spice up your drink menu by experimenting with craft cocktails. Make your own simple syrups with fresh herbs, fruits, spices or veggie infusions, taking your cocktails to the next level.
Blending a combination of summer berries or tropical fruits creates an all-natural syrup for a refreshing cocktail mixer. Muddling or grilling fruits can enhance their flavors — try blending grilled peaches, straining the mixture and adding it to a drink.
Unique drink options can extend beyond fresh fruits. Vegetables can make for an unexpected option. While the sweetness of a beet shines when paired with the depth of a bourbon, fresh cucumber pairs great with a minty mojito.
Let your creative juices flow and wow your guests with the best backyard barbecue of the summer!