17771-backyard-bbq-chef-garvinThrowing a backyard BBQ for your friends and family is one of the best parts of summer, but sometimes while hosting we can get so wrapped up in creating the fun we forget to have some fun ourselves! Chef G. Garvin says it doesn't have to be that way. Trust us, this James-Beard-Award-winning chef who spent years getting things "perfect" in Ritz-Carlton kitchens knows what it means to make good food. If he says you can grill good food and still have a good time, we'll definitely listen. 

The host of "Road Trip with G. Garvin" on the Cooking Channel says the key is to plan ahead and go with a menu that pays with party favorites.

Chef Garvin's Grilling Tips:

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Don't reinvent the wheel when the wheel works. Go with the grill standards - shrimp, chicken, ribs, hamburger and hot dogs. It is not the time to experiment with the main course.  

Too Hot Too Fast

Have two temperatures going on your grill. You need a hot, hot side to give your meats a good sear on the outside to hold in all of those yummy juices. The other side should be more warm than hot. This side is to finish the cooking process.

Don't Overthink It

Chef Garvin says people spend too much time overthinking it. Stressing over the menu and worrying over the plans. He says we all just need to write down our lists and plan out a cooking schedule and let it go. Being organized should relieve all of that worry. 

Have Some Fun

While the main courses should be pretty standard; when it comes to desserts and side dishes, you can try new things. Since these are often new additions to the traditional BBQ people are a little more willing to stretch their taste buds. Try Chef Garvin's no-bake mac and cheese with lobster or his donut bread pudding. Um, can we say a big "YES" to that!?!

Start Your Cooking Early

We mean early as in the day before! Chef Garvin suggests doing the heavy lifting the day before the party. If you are having shrimp, don't skewer them that day. Do those the day before so you don’t have to worry about them. The same goes for vegetables, chop those and have them ready to go.  Any prep work you can do should be done the day before so all you have to do is put things on the grill.

The More The Merrier 

Encourage people to bring food to the party. There is nothing wrong with turning your BBQ into a potluck so everybody is "working". Chef Garvin says "if everybody is eating, everybody should be working a little bit". Sounds good to us! 




Each summer, we try to find new and unique ways to be healthy, and one of the key ways to make your standard bbq that much healthier. 

The barbecue is a key social spot in the summer, whether it’s by the pool, on a patio, or by (even better, on) the beach! This list of smart and healthy swaps for your next barbecue will have you feeling great – inside and out!

Corn on the Cob

A grilling classic – make this a lighter side by squeezing fresh lime juice and sprinkling cayenne pepper on your corn instead of slathering on butter and salt.

Chicken and Turkey Burgers

Opt for chicken or turkey burgers instead of heavy (and often pricier) red meats. If you absolutely do need to have a red meat option for the meat n’ potato guests, opt for leaner meats such as ground sirloin instead of ground chuck.

Whole Grain or All Green

If it’s white, take flight! This saying is true when it comes to fluffy white flour buns. Enhance your meals with 100 percent whole grain buns or nix the bun all together and lay your meats on a bed of lettuce or greens. 

Swap Mayo For Greek Yogurt

Sliced up veggies – all good. Sliced up veggies covered in mayo? Not so good. Mix your veggies in nonfat Greek yogurt to give it great flavor and a bigger health factor. 

Crunchy Kale Chips

Potato chips are a popular choice to snack on during barbecues but all that salt – not so good. Why not make some homemade kale chips instead? They can still get a little seasoning on them and will cause way less guilt when grabbing handfuls, and they're super easy to make - here's a simple recipe that you can adjust with all kinds of toppings. 

Light Desserts Are Just Right

No meal is done without a good dessert, right? Right? Instead of indulging in highly caloric treats, opt for a fruit and yogurt bowl or small single-serve light ice cream with a few sprinkles of dark chocolate.

How do you like to make your bbqs fresher and healthier?

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Getting bored of the typical steaks, burgers, or brats on the grill? These ideas are anything but standard.  


Pineapple - Grilled pineapple is a great summer dessert, and it can be fairly low-calorie as well! We like this recipe from Skinny Taste for a simple and sweet dish that's a great addition to any summertime meal. 

Romaine Lettuce - You probably don't think of lettuce as a food that should be cooked, but think again, because romaine lettuce definitely benefits from a little char. Try this NY Times recipe for a modern take on a Caesar salad. 

Mushrooms - The rich, meaty unami flavor of most mushrooms stands up well to the heat of the grill, and make an excellent side dish or vegetarian main dish. Check out this guide from Serious Eats and improve your fungi BBQ skills. 

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 3.10.16 PMCorn - Corn on the cob is awesome on the grill. We especially like this Mexican-inspired Bobby Flay recipe for a side dish that will spice up any outdoor meal. 

Broccoli - This sturdy veggie works well on the grill in general, we think this grilled parmesan broccoli recipe will be a new favorite for the whole family. 

Bananas - Grilled banana splits, anyone? While there's really no wrong way to do these yummy treats, the Martha Stewart version with hot fudge and rum caramel sauce are pretty exceptional. 

Brie Cheese - If you like baked brie, then you'll love grilled brie. Try this recipe from Delish with strawberries, balsamic, and basil for a truly decadent appetizer. download

Eggplant And Zucchini - These hearty veggies work well on the grill, particularly when they are paired together - like this mozzarella salad created by Caroline Artiss

Bacon - Bacon is good in pretty much any context, but it's particularly awesome when cooked on the grill. Just follow these instructions by Bon Appetit and you'll be the hero of every summer meal. 

What are your favorite things to grill? 


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BBQ (or barbecue) is one of our most all-American foods. Barbecue most likely began in the area that later became the state of North Carolina. Regional styles of BBQ vary in the U.S. but the top four great schools of barbecue are: Carolina, Memphis, Texas and Kansas City. To be fair Virginia is sometimes considered as having a distinguished regional style of its own but we will concentrate on the top four regional styles of BBQ.

Top Four Styles of BBQ- by Region

While there are bbq spots around the country and nearly every major metro area in the U.S. has its own claim to BBQ fame,

Carolina BBQ

Carolina's most popular meat for BBQ is pork, both whole hog and shoulder. This makes immanent sense, as pigs were prevalent in colonial times, the time of the original BBQ, which most likely originated in the Carolinas. Pulled and chopped pork cozy up to vinegar-based sauces and the meat is pit-cooked over direct heat. The pork in the Carolinas is cooked slowly for about 6-8 hours (depending on the size of the meat) at 250 degrees or less. NC-style "pig-picking” can be a home-cooking phenomenon. Pigs cooked in pits in the ground, metal cookers or brick pits, are accompanied by charcoal or wood.

Memphis BBQ

Pork ribs and pork shoulder dominate the Memphis BBQ scene. There are two kinds of ribs: wet and dry. The wet ribs offer a tomato, vinegar and mustard sauce and the dry is just that as they are cooked without a sauce. The ribs are smoked over indirect heat but finished over direct heat. Ribs came into favor after the Civil War as former slaves migrated from rural states to the urban South and Midwest in the early half of the twentieth century. A world-famous BBQ cook-off is held in Memphis annually, called “Memphis in May.” The 2013 dates are May 17th to May 19th.

Texas BBQ

Beef brisket is king in the Lone Star cattle state, where there seems to be a BBQ restaurant in every small town and big city. Pork ribs run a close second, and both are served with a tomato–based sauce on the side. You’ll also find chicken, sausage, ham, beef ribs and, at times, turkey and cabrito (goat). The meat is smoked over indirect heat using woods such as hickory, mesquite (native to the state), and oak. The meat is traditionally served on a large piece of butcher paper with the requisite sides.

Kansas City

Pork ribs and beef brisket reign supreme in Kansas City. The ribs are sticky with a tomato-based sauce but this same sauce is served on the side of the brisket.  Like in Memphis and Texas, the meat is smoked over indirect heat but finished over direct heat. Midwestern traditions came to Kansas City from both Texas and the South. It is the middle ground for the beef traditions of Texas and the pork traditions of the South. Sauce is very important to Kansas City diners and the Kraft brand of commercial sauce, the world’s first mass produced sauce, is a Kansas City style full of tomatoes, a bit of a sweet taste and somewhat spicy.

For more on BBQ and other delicious foods, check out www.sallybernstein.com

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Barbecue food may not seem all that complicated, but many amateur grillers have approached the craft naive to the subtleties of grilling that will make their family's meal the envy of the block. 

Overthinking, under-preparedness and disorganization are just a few of the pitfalls that threaten to derail dinnertime every time you open your grill. 

To get a better grasp on what separates a good barbecue from a great barbecue, Womensforum spoke with The Cooking Channel's Chef G. Garvin about how to achieve grilled perfection. 

In Chef Garvin's opinion, one of the most common mistakes people make when grilling is overshooting and trying to do too much. 

"One of the biggest obstacles people have is worrying so much about what they’re gonna do and how they’re gonna do it. Be organized, take your time with it. At the end of the day, it’s all about having some fun with the grill." - Chef Garvin

16871 ABBQMistakeStaying organized is a big enough challenge throughout our day to day lives, but getting a lot of the tedious prep work done beforehand will free you up at that critical moment when the meat hits the grill. 

Prep work is often overlooked when it comes to barbecues, but as Chef Garvin explained, the steps you take beforehand can make your meal something to remember.

"It’s all about the marinade!" - Chef Garvin

Simply tossing some hamburger patties on the grill will fill your family's stomachs, but trying out different herbs and seasoning will introduce them to new flavors and turn dinnertime into an experience. 

When the time finally comes to heat the meat, the way you set up your grill is of utmost importance, Chef Garvin says.

"You want to have a hot side and a warm side. What that means is, you want to get a really great sear or grill marks on the grill and then let the cooking process continue on the warm side. Start the cooking process on one, finish the cooking process on the other." - Chef Garvin

This simple trick will give your food that signature sear from the grill without leaving the middle of the meat undercooked. Being thorough and thoughtful in the way you prepare your meal will really help the flavor come alive.

Just remember to do ample prep work, plan out your grilling process and avoid overthinking when you step up to the grill. By following Chef G. Garvin's advice, you'll be a barbecue master in no time!