This morning I was sent an article from Huffington Post entitled “5 Tips For Eating Healthfully At A Cookout”. Simply reading the title made me want to report the sender to my ISP for violating spamming regulations, but for some reason I felt compelled to click on the link to see what kind of shenanigans the folks over at Huff Post were spewing. What I found was a list of ridiculousness that was more absurd than anything I could have ever imagined. Somehow they managed to suck the heart and soul out of America’s only true cuisine just before the weekend we pay homage to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. And as such, I feel compelled to respond from the perspective of an overindulgent meatatarian who embraces and celebrates the barbecue lifestyle.
“Fill Up Before You Go: Go ahead, ruin your appetite before heading to the barbecue bash. You need a snack that provides satiety so you don’t show up half starved. And certainly don’t “hold out” on eating beforehand. Fasting all day in prep of a big barbecue is the worst thing you can do. You’ll slow down your metabolism and wind up overeating – a double whammy!”
The only time that you’re allowed to pre-eat before a barbecue is if you’re pulling a “Joey Chestnut” style warm-up to stretch out your stomach to make room for more barbecue. Otherwise starving yourself ahead of the feast is an absolute must-do step in the pre-barbecue routine.
“Assess The Situation When You Arrive: Sometimes, your attitude going into the meal can make or break your barbecue experience. If you see spinach dip when you enter, you may think, “There’s nothing healthy here, and I might as well pig out.” Then you notice chicken skewers, shrimp cocktail, crudité and way more. Be patient, scope out the scene and then use what is available to create as proportioned a meal as possible.”
Really…spinach dip?!?! That’s the bellwether for what type of food is being offered up at a cookout? Your assessment should be focusing on the number of pork products being served: ribs, pulled pork, sausage, bacon-wrapped anything…
“Try To Skip That First Drink: When you have your first drink before you even say hello to the guests, you’re probably off to an overindulgent night. You’ll end up consuming too many calories from alcohol, and then the effects of said alcohol may inhibit your willpower and make you consume too many calories from food, too.”
The whole point of having a barbecue is to bask in the glory of an overindulgent night. Protocol demands that you greet your guests at the door with ice cold adult beverages, and promptly direct them to the buffet line. The only willpower you need is suppressing the meat sweats for as long as possible!
“Fill Your Plate Once: Take one serving of lean protein – just one! Go for barbecue chicken or fish, which are usually the leanest options. Fill the rest of your plate with other healthy foods, such as grilled vegetables, roasted corn, tomato slices and salad. Enjoy that first plate, but then stop eating and enjoy the people – not food – around you.”
Of all the tips in this article, this one is by far the most atrocious. Fill your plate only once?!?! I deploy a very specific buffet strategy that requires multiple trips to the food troughs. The first pass is dedicated to filling a plate with one-bite samples of everything available, that way I can quickly identify the standouts. Pass 2, and sometimes 3 and 4, focus on quantity of said standout items. Then the final pass is strictly for desserts. The only possible way I could deviate from this strategy is if the plates are replaced by cafeteria trays.
“Host A Healthy Barbecue: If it’s your turn to do the hosting, serve delicious and healthy options for your guests. Instead of those heavy, saucy chicken wings, try this recipe for almond-crusted chicken skewers. Light and satisfying, these skewers are the perfect blend of sweet and savory. And unlike some traditional barbecue fare, this refreshing dish won’t leave you feeling overstuffed for the rest of the party.”
If I invited my friends over and served up almond-crusted chicken skewers with a light and refreshing fruit salad, then I’m pretty sure I’d be forced to cough up my Kansas City Barbecue Society membership card right there on the spot. In my world, chicken wings slathered with BBQ sauce are the light and refreshing starter for a barbecue while the big meats (brisket and pork shoulder) slow roast inside the smoker.