When I think back to my most pleasant summer memories, I think about cooking outside. Most of the time that means grilling . . . and one of my favorites — barbequed ribs. Whether you use a traditional charcoal barbecue or a gas barbecue (my preference because you can control the heat more precisely), foods come out tasting delicious—almost magically so. And while most of us think of protein on the grill, fruits and vegetables come out brilliantly — the direct heat caramelizes whatever produce you’re grilling, deepening the flavor.
For a delicious starter, try my recipe for Grilled Artichoke with Moringa Dip. Artichokes are full of lutein (great for eye health) and fiber.
The rest of the recipe calls for other grilled vegetables such as red bell peppers, zucchini, and asparagus to expand on this healthful, festive and delicious first course.
So fire up the backyard or patio grill! See what a little open flame can do to make already healthy, age-defying foods even more delicious. Here are some of my favorite grilling recipes from my latest cookbook, The Age Beautifully Cookbook:
Wild boar has more flavor than tame pork. It has to be tenderized a bit, but that’s easily accomplished with an onion-juice marinade. You can use pork or beef medallions instead of boar and any type of cubed vegetables. This recipe makes about 6 skewers. BENEFITS: Wild boar (and therefore pork) has protein and lysine for building muscle, bone, and blood. It also contains phosphorus for nerve and muscle function and vitamin B12 for protecting nerves and brain cells.
1 lb. wild boar medallions or pork tenderloin
1/2 cup each cubed white onion, red bell pepper, and green bell pepper
1/3 cup xylitol (or coconut sugar or brown sugar)
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari sauce
1/4 cup onion juice
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
t Tbs. minced garlic
1/2 tsp rock salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
Cut the medallions into 1-inch cubes.
Make the marinade: Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
Add the boar, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Remove the meat from the marinade and alternately thread the meat and vegetables onto metal or wooden skewers.
Grill the skewers over medium heat, turning frequently, for 10-15 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.
Chef’s Note: To make the onion juice, run two whole onions through a juicer to get the amount you need. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least half an hour before threading.
These ribs get their boost of flavor from a sauce made with baobab—an African fruit with a rather dry but antioxidant-rich pulp. I think baobab may be the next most exciting superfood. The dry, powdery fruit pulp has a tangy, lemon-like flavor that goes very well with barbecued ribs.
2 lbs. pork baby back ribs
1 cup barbecue sauce
1 Tbs. baobab powder
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. minced garlic
¼ tsp. black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
With your hands, pull off from the underside of the ribs. Separate it from the meat and bones if necessary with a knife. Wash the ribs and pat them dry with a paper towel.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the barbecue sauce, baobab powder, oil, garlic, and pepper. Mix well. You will use this mixture for marinating and basting.
Place the ribs in a Pyrex baking dish. You may need to separate them into 2 or more slabs. Spread half of the baobab sauce onto the ribs and cover with foil.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1–1½ hours.
Transfer the ribs to a grill. Over high heat, sear the ribs for 4–5 minutes on each side, basting regularly with the remaining baobab barbeque sauce.
CHEF NOTE: In this recipe, you can use lemon juice or lemon zest (1 Tbs.) in place of the baobab powder, but it won’t have the same health benefits.
Makes approximately 8-10 sliders
Note: If you can’t find bison meat, you can use any grass-fed meat or even ground turkey for this recipe. For an optional topping, you can make a goat-cheese spread to top the burgers by mixing 1/4 cup goat cheese with 1/2 tsp. of roasted garlic, 1/2 tsp. of fresh thyme, 1 tsp. of fresh parsley (minced), and 1/2 tsp. of fresh dill. To cut down on the sugar, you can replace the dried cranberries with dried, unsweetened cherries to reduce sugar.
½ cup organic dried, sweetened cranberries (or unsweetened dried cherries for less sugar)
½ cup flax meal
½ cup whole wheat or regular breadcrumbs
1 lb. ground buffalo (bison) meat
1 egg (omega-3 enriched, organic or free-range)
1 tsp. salt or salt substitute
1 tsp. crushed garlic
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
Olive oil spray as needed
8-10 whole grain slider buns or rolls
Pulse the cranberries together with the flax meal and breadcrumbs in a food processor or blender until you have a coarse meal, about 1-2 minutes.
Mix the cranberry-breadcrumb mixture into the ground buffalo meat along with the egg, spice, and vinegar. Shape into 8-10 patties (about 3 inches)
Spray each patty with olive oil and grill over medium-high heat (or broil under high heat on a broiler pan) for at least 4 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook another 4-5 minutes more or until they are brown throughout (no pink in the middle).
Place on buns and spread with mustard or goat cheese. Top with pickles.
Click here to see all of Grace O’s delicious, age-defying recipes.