By: Brenda Neugent
This past Memorial day, the first holiday of the summer season, was a chance to shake off cabin fever and fire up the grill-a perfect cooking method for people with diabetes because it requires no added fat but still provides that big punch of flavor.
As summer progresses, you’ll find the grill is perfectly suited for chicken, steak, fish, and veggies, and innovative grill masters can also use it for a unique spin on fruits like pineapple or peaches. A meal of grilled chicken, chunks of zucchini, onion and pepper on skewers, and grilled peach halves is light, flavorful and a healthy way to celebrate the season without feeling one bit deprived.
My husband, Martie, and I shake our winter blues with summer camping trips.
There’s nothing like pitching our tent under the stars and relaxing around a campfire after a day of hiking, swimming, and biking.
Best of all, I feel closest to loved ones I’ve lost when I’m immersed in nature, so a summer day spent camping allows them to join me in my memories and share seats around our campfire.
Because biking especially helps Martie, a type 2, control his blood sugar and keep it within normal range, weather permitting we pack our bikes and ride the curves and rolling hills that make up the Blue Ridge Parkway.
All that riding really does work up an appetite, though, so I like to plan ahead so that we’re not forced to abandon smart choices because we’re starving and can’t wait to eat. Outdoor cooking is particularly fun for me, most likely because Martie still calls a meal I served him during a winter camping trip one of the best he’s ever had in his life. (It included salmon, corn on the cob, sliced potatoes, and zucchini.)
This summer, our menus will include venison burgers-a perfect choice because game meat is super-lean and we know it has no additives because we processed it ourselves. If you don’t have access to venison, lean turkey breast, ostrich, or buffalo are also great options.
Because venison is so lean, it requires a special cooking method to prevent it from crumbling apart. I shape the patties, season them with a touch of salt and lots of black pepper, and layer them with plenty of sliced onion before wrapping them with foil and throwing them on some hot coals on the edge of the fire. The foil holds the meat together while it cooks, and the onions add moisture so the burgers won’t be dry. I’ll serve them with spicy mustard and a few vegetables as sides.
Martie loves potatoes, but instead of salad-which traditionally has too much fat from the mayonnaise-I’ll drizzle diced red potatoes with olive oil and cook them in foil on the fire. The outer edges cook up crispy, while the insides become soft, almost creamy, with a hint of smoky flavor. As homage to that winter camping trip that was our first getaway as a couple, I also prepare sliced zucchini, dusted with Italian seasoning. I cook the zucchini in foil as well, which locks in moisture while allowing the squash slices to cook evenly.
For dessert, it’s hard to pass up strawberries. We buy them from a neighboring farm-supermarket berries are never as good as they look. Our farm-bought berries are bright red and juicy, with just the right touch of sweetness. Dipped in a mix of Greek yogurt and honey, they’re the perfect finish to a summer feast to remember.