Thursday, May 15, 2014

Outdoor Cookouts and Entertaining

Outdoor Grilling and Summertime Meals

by Angela Yannessa
GlassDharma wants to help you Green your Barbecues this Spring and Summer! It is easy to do once you take notice of reusable options over their "disposable" counterparts.

dishes, napkins, reusable, reuse, BBQ, entertaining
photo by Didriks on Flickr
If you are hosting an event, use real stuff! Don't waste money on paper or plastic cups, utensils, and plates that will leave you with a large amount of waste, use plates and utensils you already have! A run of the dishwasher or a load of dishes in the sink is minimal to the amount of time and money you will save not buying plastic ware. In addition, it is  much better for the environment and health of you and your guests.

Have you invited more people than you have plates for? How can you cut out the need for "disposable" products in such a large party setting? Consider the number of people attending the event, and if you will not have enough plates/utensils/glasses on hand, ask someone who is helping coordinate or bringing a side dish to bring a set of plates. You can also borrow from a neighbor, or just ask everyone to bring their own plates and utensils. Cloth napkins can be used, and instead of plastic tablecloths that get thrown away, you can use cloth, towels, or sheets.  The main goal is to reduce waste, so get creative. Use leftover jars from pickles or jam for drinking glasses. For kebabs, use  a rosemary stem or metal skewers instead of single use wooden ones. Once you start coming up with new ideas, the rest will easily come to you.

In addition to lessening your footprint, food served from ceramic plates and glass dishes over plastic or aluminum simply looks more appealing. Let the foods do the decorating for you! Fruit plates, vegetables, and your grilled meals served in glass or ceramic show off the true beauty of the food itself, and you won't feel the need for space filler decorations. Beverages taste better from glasses over plastic, and we all know plastic knives have never been useful for cutting. What better way to impress guests than with real serve-ware, delicious food, all the while being conscious of the environment? This doesn't stop with forks, knives, and plates either; putting your GlassDharma straws in a vase for use in beverages will serve as a centerpiece, and will be sure to start some conversations.

grill, veggies, vegetables, BBQ, outdoor cooking
Photo by Jeremy Keith
Besides serve ware, the next place to cut the most waste is the grocery store. For food purchasing, bring your own shopping bags, and as much as possible, containers to carry your meat and vegetables out plastic free. Jars, Pyrex, and other glass options are best for meat, while light netted bags are great for vegetables and fruits. Try to buy local products as much as possible, which also reduces your footprint. As soon as you get home and unpack your bags, you will see the amount of waste reduced from bringing your own containers and bags.

When it comes time for food preparation, the grill is the perfect outdoor choice in the warm weather. It allows you to enjoy the warm, fresh air, and keeps the house cool in the midst of late Spring and Summer heat! In addition, it allows extra fats to be removed from meat in the cooking process, and retains more beneficial vitamins. Fruits and vegetables are also really great when grilled- and many maintain more nutrients when grilled, and overall grilled food comes out tender and delicious, retaining its best natural flavors.
Another consideration for the environment is the type of grill you use. Gas and propane grills have been found to be best, causing the least amount of pollution when compared with coal fired grills.

Below are some ideas for different types of food to grill to change it up for your barbecue. If grilling meat, be sure not to let it burn.** This can be done by first choosing small cuts of lean meat, and turning them often while cooking. Thicker cuts take longer to cook on the inside, so the outer portion is more likely to burn. Besides not tasting good, from a health standpoint this charring can expose the meat to carcinogens that are not good to ingest. These substances can also arise when fat drips from the meat hitting the flames and traveling back up in the smoke. For the best, healthiest results, make sure to start with a clean grill, and focus more of the meal on vegetables and fruits which do not produce these substances.

As a staple in many kitchens, chicken can become a boring meal throughout the year. When the warm weather arrives and the grill can be used,  it allows many different recipes and flavors to be used to enhance the dish and make it more interesting. Barbecue sauce, teriyaki, and peanut sauces pair perfectly with chicken and provide a great range of flavor.

Do you have a flat grill plate? While open grates work fine for many vegetables and fruits, the flat plate will give you more control from fallen pieces, as well as seasoning. This is a great way to make "fries" at home without the grease! Sweet potato OR regular, slice into centimeter thick strips, oil your grill plate and grill until tender. Close the lid of the grill to allow them to get crispy on the outside. Season with salt and pepper to taste, in addition to any other favorite flavor. Garlic and parmesan are a great pair for fries. "Baked" potatoes are easy on the grill, too!

Veggie burgers are easy to make at home with bread crumbs, quinoa, and sweet potato, or black beans, mushrooms, and corn. See the recipe here.

Heads of romaine can be grilled for a twist on your traditional salad, as well as homemade pizza!
For side dishes like potato, chicken, or egg salad, avocado can replace mayo; just peel, remove the pit, and toss it in the food processor with some lime juice and black pepper!

jars, drinks, ice, bowl
Individual Drinks in Jars
For keeping drinks cool, use a wheelbarrow or borrow a friends cooler so you don't have to buy one you might only use this once. Have an open flower box or two? Fill them with ice and beverages for cold drinks! Many pint sized jars are freezer proof- fill those with your drink of choice and put them in your cooler.

Any grilled meal pairs perfectly with a lavender lemonade complete with GlassDharma straw! Lemonade is great for any hot day, and the addition of lavender spices it up a little and provides an enjoyable and unique flavor. Lavender also contains many health benefits, is anti-inflammatory, and will help you digest your grilled meal. Try this recipe for your next barbecue. A splash of gin works wonderfully in addition, if desired.

All in all, keeping it simple will allow you to cut out waste from plastic and paper items, and have a beautiful party with delicious food.

** See how using a beer based marinade can reduce possible carcinogens in the INH Health Watch Newsletter

What are your favorite summer recipes? Please share your favorite recipes with GlassDharma in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the Glass Eddy, super cool colors