National BBQ Month: Healthy Take on Backyard BBQ

If you’re anything like me, summer brings thoughts of warm nights on the beach, using the brightest nail polishes you own, and of course, backyard barbeques, whenever possible. But, one of the pitfalls (no pun intended!) of the quintessential backyard BBQ is often times the lack of healthy options – what with the pulled pork, chicken wings, and dips galore we’re on the fast track to a very unhealthy season. We’re here to tell you that there are in fact recipes that are perfect for your next barbeque that will keep your belly and your body happy! Thanks to our friends over at The Oaks at Ojai we have a full menu for a healthy Backyard Barbeque (dessert included!)

While The Oaks at Ojai doesn’t have an outdoor cooking facility they love participating in barbeque season and do so in a healthy way using their in-kitchen grill – which gives summer fixings all the flavors that, in the words of Oaks’ Chef Christine, “speak to our memories around the family or park picnic table.” This Backyard Barbeque Menu features a special tangy Barbeque Sauce recipe that you’ll be using all summer long, a Country Slaw recipe for a perfect side, and a Chocolate Fondue with Strawberries (drooling yet?!).

Barbeque Sauce from The Oaks at Ojai
12 servings: 160 calories including chicken and 1 oz/sauce (see below for chicken preparation)

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon. black pepper
2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried ginger
¼ cup red wine
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce
2 cups tomato puree
½ cup tomato paste
½ cup orange juice concentrate
1½ cups water

1. Cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil on a low temperature until the onions are clear.  Add the herbs and spices, and mix well.

2. Add the red wine and molasses to the onion mixture and simmer five minutes.

3. Stir in the Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, tomato paste, puree, orange juice concentrate, and water and simmer for approximately one hour to reduce volume and meld flavors.

Chef’s Note: If you love the flavor of liquid smoke, you can add a teaspoon of it and mix well.

Chicken Preparation:

1. Start with 4 oz. chicken breasts on the bone, but skinless.

2. The chicken can be marinated briefly in a small amount of olive oil and garlic to get the juice flowing, or you can just spray your grill with a non-stick spray.  Grill your chicken in a cross-pattern just to mark it, turn it over and brush the tops with the barbeque sauce.  Then cover and finish baking in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees, covered with foil.

The Oaks at Ojai Country Slaw
12 servings: 35 calories per ½ cup

4 cups green cabbage, shredded
½ cup finely chopped green onion
1½ cups shredded carrot

For the dressing:
1 cup nonfat cottage cheese
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine the cottage cheese and red wine vinegar and lemon juice in a food processor and process until creamy and light.  With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify.  Pick up the flavor with a tablespoon or so of freshly minced dill or cilantro.  Or, add a teaspoon of celery seed or fennel seed.

According to Chef Christine, “No picnic or summer party is complete with either some watermelon or some strawberries.  Fresh, ripe fruit speaks for itself, but if you’d like an easy to travel, low calorie fondue, try the following!”

Chocolate Fondue with Strawberries
Serving size:  ½ cup strawberries (3 large) with 1 tablespoon of fondue. Serves 12: 50 calories per serving

6 cups strawberries, rinsed and left whole or sliced
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons agave or honey (for sweetener)
1 oz. unsweetened or bittersweet (if you use this, skip the sweetener) chocolate, chopped
½ cup water
½ teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch+ 1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon vanilla
(1 tablespoon peanut butter:  optional)

Combine water, baking chocolate and agave in saucepan and heat gently over low to medium heat until chocolate is melted and it is whisked smooth.  Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth.  Mix cornstarch (or arrowroot) with a tablespoon of water and heat until slightly thickened. Stir in vanilla.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature or chill.  Serve as a dip with fresh strawberries, or drizzle over berries and serve.

Special Message from The Oaks at Ojai:  “The Oaks at Ojai always serves barbequed chicken on the Fourth of July, and on other occasions as well throughout the spring and summer months.  Our meal includes coleslaw, chicken, corn on the cob, green beans, and a dessert utilizing fresh strawberries or watermelon—-all for 350 calories!  The most important feature is that all of the foods are serving you with nutrients that only fresh foods can provide, in the amounts that allow you to be the best you can be!  Bon Appetit!”

Are you planning any summer barbeques? Will you use the menu from The Oaks at Ojai? Let us know!

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