Summer is synonymous with barbecuing for most of us, and often it’s a time when all that’s on offer are a few old fat-laden sausages and burgers.
But, barbecuing doesn’t have to equal unhealthy food!
So, before you dust off your barbecue this summer, here are 7 tips to help you enjoy the BBQ season while still eating healthy…
1. Go for lean or extra lean meats
If your barbecue normally consists of fatty, processed meats why not try healthier options such as chicken, turkey or soy hot dogs?
When purchasing meat look out for those marked “lean” or “extra lean” at the supermarket, and remember to trim any visible fat prior to cooking.
Another delicious option is to serve fish of some description. You could go for monkfish cubes, with alternate chunks of mango, then drizzle with a little olive oil to cook, and served with wedges of lime.
Or, if salmon’s more your thing, place salmon fillets into separate sheets of foil to make individual parcels, squeeze some lemon juice over, wrap up and pop on the barbecue for around 10 minutes.
2. Add flavour with marinades
Try marinading meats for a few hours before you begin cooking to add delicious flavours without hiking up the calories too much.
Worcestershire sauce (2 tablespoons contain 30 calories), low sodium soy sauce (2 tablespoons contain 120 calories), lime juice, and tomato paste (2 tablespoons contain 40 calories), work really well.
3. Serve a vegetarian option
Why not break away from the not-so-exciting veggie burger vegetarian option, and do something a little different?
You could try grilling extra-firm tofu – it will work really well on a skewer with some vegetables.
Another option is to serve barbecued halloumi – this cheese is firm so it won’t melt when cooked, meaning you can slice or cube it to cook over the barbecue until browned on the outside, and soft on the inside.
4. Go for barbecued veggies
Barbecued vegetables are delicious, and it’s a great way to add more variation and colour to your party food.
Go for vegetable kebabs, or try wrapping different vegetables in foil and then popping straight onto the grill.
Whole mushrooms, corn on the cob, and asparagus spears barbecue really well. Or, if you’re making up kebabs try layering onion slices with aubergine, bell peppers, and zucchini, or any combination of your favourite veggies.
5. Serve wholegrains on the side
Rather than opting for the traditional white breads, rice and pasta on the side, go for wholegrain options instead.
Look out for wholegrain, seeded breads and baps at the supermarket, and make your own wholemeal pasta, brown rice, or buckwheat salads with lots of extra vegetables, rather than serving creamy store-bought coleslaw’s and potato salads.
Another wonderful side option for barbecuing is jacket potatoes. Again, wrap them in foil, and simply place directly onto the coals, then leave to cook for approximately one hour while you wait for everything else.
6. Control your portion size
Choosing healthier portions at the barbecue will obviously help you keep the calories at bay. Encourage everyone to eat healthier by serving smaller portions:
- Go for extra-lean 1/4 pound burgers, rather than 1/2 pound patties
- Choose quality over quantity – for example fillet steaks, lean chicken breasts and lean pork chops
- Serve plenty of vegetables and salads with your meats
- Slice larger cuts of meat, such whole pork tenderloin or roast meats thinly before serving
7. Go for healthy munchies
It’s really easy to put all your calorie counting out of sink by overdoing it with unhealthy snacks.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, serve nuts in their shells rather than potato chips or salted nuts. Pistachios are a great option with only 100 calories for about 30.
Also remember the fibre and protein content in nuts will help curb your appetite too.
You could also make up a large bowl of fresh fruit salad and serve with low fat yoghurt for everyone to snack on.
Or, to finish off your meal with a healthy sweet treat, serve barbecued bananas – when the charcoal starts to die down, wrap bananas in foil in their skins and pop on the shelf, leave for about 10 minutes then unwrap and enjoy!
What healthy foods do you serve at your barbecue?