Barbecue can be healthy

Freedom New Mexico: Liliana Castillo Wendell Blair cooks all of the meat for his family’s meals on the grill. “We eat together as a family a lot,” Blair said. “It’s what we do.”

LiLi Castillo

Justin Johnson said it doesn’t take much to change a backyard barbecue into a healthy meal.

“Instead of using hamburger meat, use ground turkey,” Johnson suggested. “It’s a lot leaner and is high in protein. You can also get turkey hot dogs.”

Johnson is a certified personal trainer in Portales and makes nutrition plans for his clients. Johnson tells his clients healthy doesn’t mean a lack in flavor, and that applies to barbecue as well.

“I use a lot of spices,” Johnson said. “Spices don’t change the nutritional value of a meal, just the flavor.”

Johnson said to keep barbecue healthy to stay away from beef in general.

“If you prefer beef, go with lean cuts and lean ground beef,” Johnson said.

The same small detail tweaking applies to sides and toppings, according to Johnson.

“Use fat-free mayonnaise, go sparingly on the ketchup because it has a lot of sugar, but mustards fine,” Johnson said.

Doug McGregor, a Clovis resident, said he always tries to keep his barbecue a healthy as possible by picking lean meats.

“I always try to get leaner, that’s why I do a lot of pork loins,” McGregor said.

McGregor says he cooks meals on the grill for he and his wife three to four times a week.

“It just depends what I’m hungry for,” McGregor said. “But I grill pork loins, chickens, turkeys, pulled pork, ribs, steaks, hamburgers.”

McGregor even grills the couples dessert of fruit.

“We all need more servings of fruit,” McGregor said. “There’s nothing you can’t cook on a grill if you try.”

Another Clovis resident, Wendell Blair, cooks all of his meat outside on the grill. Blair said his family gets together for freshly grilled chicken dinners all the time. And grilling dinner isn’t just a summer thing for the Blair family.

“We grill year round. I remember one time we were in Germany and it was snowing. My wife held an umbrella over me and we made dinner,” said Blair, who spent 19 years in the U.S. Army.

But keeping his barbecue healthy is simple for him.

“Don’t salt it to death,” Blair said.