You’re following this column nearly every month, hopefully along with  my emails and FaceBook posts giving hints and facts of what to eat or not eat to make you ‘brain smart’ and age ‘successfully’, healthily.  So…you’re feeling great.  But now it’s time to go out to or host the family BBQ for Labor Day to bring summer to a close.   

The centerpiece of nearly any summertime cookout spread features BBQ pork ribs or pulled pork laden with sauce loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other preservative chemicals.  The table will most probably feature store made potato salad or store made cole slaw, potato chips, jarred spinach dip complete with watermelon, maybe a big store box cake and/or ‘gourmet’ cookies size of mini Frisbees.

Except for the watermelon, it is highly glycemic so pushing it, this table serves no brain foods. 

Okay, so what do you serve? 

Here is a short list of typical cookout foods, why they are brain bad for you complete with suggested substitutions. And that’s the secret, substitution!

BBQ pork with store bought sauce

Why Bad: Just read the ingredients, if you can’t pronounce or define the words, your gut and head brain can’t successfully digest the ingredients either.   And when reading the ingredients, of all things avoid HFCS and preservatives, seek all natural ingredients.  I mean that is what our brain is, right, all natural.  Why inject it with non natural ingredients?  You don’t fill your car gas tank full of sprite.  Anyway…

Substitution:  Make own dry rub or marinade from all natural ingredients, (paprika, garlic salt, onion powder, cinnamon, black pepper, cumin, allspice, oregano-make a paste with some coconut oil) keep basting or rubbing on the rub, use a catch drip pan when cooking and serve with aus jus after draining off some of fat, no commercial sauce needed!

Store Potato Salad

Why Bad: White potato is one of 5 White Brain Damaging foods we talked about in May. Find the article in my blog on my website.   Plus, what is that white stuff? 

Substitution:  Sweet potatoes cut into chunks with skin on, doused in olive oil, with slices of apples (be sure to soak first in real lemon juice so they will not turn brown), raisins and throw in some roasted nuts. 


Why Bad: Again, white potato problem but double damage because it is cooked in hydrogenated omega 6 bad fat.  Over time, omega 6 oils cause hyper inflammation in your brain, killing brain cells.

Substitution: If needing a base for a dip try sliced cucumbers, zucchini and yellow squash as crackers.

Jarred Spinach Dip: 

Why Bad:  There is nothing natural in that jar of spinach dip. 

Substitution: Make your own spinach dip with drained and thawed once frozen box of spinach and homemade mayo. Throw in few sprinkles of Cajun seasoning, be adventurous and add chopped water chestnuts, jalapeno peppers, cherry tomatoes or red bell pepper.  What to dip it with?  Celery hunks are GREAT!

It’s traditional to close out summer with a cookout.  Instead of grabbing or serving junk foods or processed foods, if a factory makes it, it’s processed, celebrate the summer with foods you have made substitutions for. 

Want more suggestions for everyday substitutions?  Check out my three page white paper 5 Secrets to Getting Your Gut-in-Gear,  at

By Janet Rich Pittman, SCALA, CDP

Dementia Practitioner for Prevention and REVERSAL!

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