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Spice up your BBQ for the Health of it!

Spring is here, and with the advent of warm weather, the grills are getting dusted off and fired up for backyard barbeques. Grilling doesn’t have to be the standard hot dogs and hamburgers. It’s easy and healthy to grill chicken, salmon, steaks, scallops, shrimp, lobster, and even vegetables on the Barbie. Asparagus, potatoes, summer squash and zucchini are great veggies for grilling. A hint of olive oil or natural butter on these keep them moist, adding flavor and healthy fats to the diet. Celtic sea salt and Himalayan pink salt, along with black pepper, are a couple of the most basic spices used. However, there are a wide range of other herbs and vegetables that offer additional nutritional health boosts, in addition to being very tasty.
Some of the best nutritious herbs and bulb vegetables that can be used as sides or rubs on grilled meats and vegetables include ginger, turmeric, garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper and thyme. Ginger has been used throughout the centuries for reducing nausea, improving gastric function and digestion, reducing gas and cramping, and minimizing appetite cravings (Axe). Ginger, along with turmeric, is a member of the Zingiberacea family, and according to Penn State researchers, “eating a diet rich in spices, like turmeric and cinnamon, reduces the body’s negative responses to eating high-fat meals.” (Medical News Today, 2011) Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg are tasty on summer squash, spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes. And research has shown that garlic, ginger, and onions all contain powerful anti-clotting properties that help prevent cardiovascular events. (Axe)
Cayenne pepper in particular is a great spice to rub on meats for extra kick, but its health benefits are even more notable. Containing the active compound capsaicin, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, it has been used since ancient times to relieve joint and muscle pain, improve circulation, increase appetite and reduce headaches. It also contains flavonoids that provide anti-oxidant protection; vitamins C, B6, E and K; and the mineral manganese, which is needed for cellular energy production, balancing blood sugar, and keeping bones, tendons and ligaments strong. (Medical News Today, 2014)
So while the grill is preheating and the meats and vegetables are marinating, add more healthful flavor to the mix. Get creative with the backyard meals. There are many recipes for rubs online that take very little preparation time. The key to great health begins with a varied diet. Remember, too, the old adage: variety is the spice of life!

Contributed by Terri Caunt R.N., B.S.N.
Axe, D. J. (n.d.). Retrieved 5 6, 2015, from
Medical News Today. (2011, August 13). Retrieved May 6, 2015, from
Medical News Today. (2014, September 8). Retrieved May 6, 2015, from