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11 BBQ Hacks for Your Best Ever Barbecue

11 BBQ Hacks for Your Best Ever Barbecue


    Ah…the smell of burning wood and roasting meat, wonderful primal pleasures and the sign that summer is here.

    Barbecue season is well underway, and there’s no time like the present to deliver some tips to make your barbecues the most successful in the neighborhood. Seven years ago I married my South African husband. I never realized that one of the many benefits of marrying him would be learning how to organize a barbecue like a pro.

    Here are 11 BBQ hacks to help you make this year’s barbecues the best ever.

    Planning

    Now you may say that planning takes the fun out of what should be a spontaneous event, but if you don’t have the basics ready to go you will have put out the fire long before it was even lit.

    1. Fuel

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    Make sure you have the fuel you are going to use ready in advance, this means you can be more spontaneous when the mood takes you. Wood is a great fuel for a BBQ as it adds a smokey flavor to your food as well as creating ambiance. Hardwood gives you better coals. If you can’t get your hands on good barbecue hardwood, charcoal can also make just as successful a fire. Whatever fuel you use, make sure you light a big enough fire. You can always light a second fire a little later and use the second fire to feed the first one.

    2. Marinating

    All meat tastes better when marinated. This is where the advance planning can come in handy. If you plan and marinate the night before the meat will be more tender and tastier, leaving less up to your cooking skills on the day.

    Equipment

    Every expert needs their tools of the trade and if you want to be a master BBQ chef, you need to have your tools at the ready.

    3. BBQ tongs

    I recommend that you invest in two sets of BBQ tongs, one good pair with a good grip to turn the meat. The other pair you can use for moving hot coals into position.

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    4. Hinged Grids

    All BBQs have a grid where you place the food but if you want to reduce the amount of work required to turn multiple pieces of meat at once, a good idea is to use a hinged grid. Not only does it save you time and avoid burning the meat, it is also very good for delicate foods such as fish.

    5. Sharp Knife

    Don’t forget the essential sharp knife as it may be necessary to trim excess fat from the meat.

    Lighting the Fire

    6. Timing

    The most important aspect of lighting a fire is to make sure you do it in plenty of time. It can take anything from 30 minutes to 1 hour before the fire is ready for cooking, this will depend on the type of coals you have used.

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    7. Ready for cooking

    This is one of the trickier aspects of the BBQ for me, knowing when the coals are ready to start cooking. The lesson I’ve been told is to do the following: if you have a wood fire, when the coals are red hot (with no smoke) you are ready to go. If you have a charcoal fire the coals should be grey and ashy.

    8. Controlling the Heat

    The easiest way to change the amount of heat reaching your meat or fish is to raise or lower the grid. Most BBQs will have adjustable grid heights. You can also add or remove coals if you need more (or less) heat.

    Vegetarian BBQs

    I once invited a friend to a barbecue but she was a little offended thinking I had forgotten she was a vegetarian. What she didn’t realize is that I have many vegetarians in my family — and a vegan too. Our house is accustomed to catering to many different diet requirements and preferences. Anything can be cooked on a BBQ.

    9. Vegetable Parcels

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    My favorite is wrapping mushroom and zucchini in foil with garlic, salt and pepper — yum! Anything can be put inside foil and cooked on the fire. Corn on the cob and sweet potatoes also work really well.

    10. Vegetable Pots

    Another way to cook vegetables is to put them in a cast iron pot directly on the fire. The vegetables can be cooking away while you dedicate all your time to the meat and entertaining your guests.

    11. Sandwiches

    Sandwiches on the fire? Yes! South Africans call them “Braai Broodjies” — cheese, tomato and onion — the standard edition. These can be put on the BBQ when all the food is cooked; they need to be cooked on low coals and cooked very slowly so that the cheese melts well inside. They can be eaten later on in the evening if the BBQ goes late or kept for lunch or a picnic the next day. Either way, the smokey taste on the bread is delicious.

    Final Tip

    Barbecues can be a really enjoyable way to eat — eating in the open air always seems to make the food taste better. If you live in a cold country like me, light another fire to stay warm. This will make the barbecue more enjoyable and prolong its duration before you have to run for the warmth of the indoors.

    And one BBQ hack for those of you attending a barbecue and the host happens to be a South African: do not interfere with the fire or the meat if you want to have a happy and relaxed host.

    (Photo credit: Steak on the Grill via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

    Video Summary

    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

    One Exercise, multiple benefits

    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

            5. You’ll improve overall balance

              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                  How to hold a plank position

                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                    • Prolapse
                    • After prolapse surgery
                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                    • Previous childbirth
                    • Overweight

                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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