BBQs can be a dieter’s nightmare. Even if you’re not watching your weight, BBQ food is notoriously full of fat and often of low quality. But there are plenty of healthy alternatives which you can add to your BBQ repertoire to create a delicious and nutritious spread. Consultant Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, tells us which BBQ dishes she recommends for a nutrition boost!
With the combination of warm sunshine, long summer evenings and the school holidays coming up, our thoughts often turn to barbeques. However, whilst some traditional barbeque foods are deliciously tasty, they may not always be very healthy; many are very high in calories and fat.
So here are seven of my favourite healthy barbeque foods and why they’re so nutritionally beneficial:
Shop-bought beef burgers are frequently high in fat and often contain preservatives or flavourings. Homemade burgers are much better, healthier and tastier and making them doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as you might think.
Use extra lean mince, some crushed cream crackers, beaten egg, parsley, a little chopped onion and salt and pepper. Gather all the ingredients into a ‘round’ and you’ve got a great burger for the barbeque.
Now for the burger bun dilemma – it is really needed? Meat is obviously high in protein which will give you that feeling of fullness. Add a delicious salad, including some sun-dried tomatoes, to create a very healthy and satisfying meal. Plus you’ll save yourself another 200 calories!
This is maybe a slightly pricier option but well worth it for special barbeque occasions. The fresh squid needs to be cut into rings – the fishmonger may even do this for you if you ask him nicely! Then feed it onto four sharp skewers, alternating with some peppers and onions. The squid head can also be fed onto the skewer last and secured with the tentacles if you’re feeling brave!
The skewers can then be drizzled with some olive oil and put onto the high heat of the barbeque for around one minute. A delicious, low calorie, low fat treat with the peppers and onion providing some Vitamin C. Incidentally, onions are also high in a compound called quercetin which helps to keep histamine in check – especially good for anyone experiencing summer allergies.
An easy and healthy addition to any barbeque meal. Many people tend to overeat at barbeques and then feel lethargic the next day. The digestive system can also take a hammering when people indulge on too many fatty foods, particularly red meat, which is difficult to digest. Vegetable skewers are high in fibre and rich in minerals and won’t ‘sit’ on your stomach.
You can be as creative as you like; red, green and yellow peppers, aubergines, onions, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, which are packed with lycopene and help to protect the skin from the aging effects of the sun. And to turn this into a more complete meal, why not add some slices of halloumi cheese, which is always great barbequed. All-in-all a really healthy choice!
One of the best things about this recipe is that you can use nearly any whole white-fleshed fish or rainbow trout. My favourite choice would be a whole sea bream; you can get the fishmonger to gut it for you. Then fill the middle with lemon grass, coriander, ginger and lime and either wrap the fish in foil and place it on the barbeque or place it in a fish griddle – delicious. Quick, easy, high in protein and low in fat – a real summer winner!
This is such a simple idea but sometimes overlooked for creamier, calorie-laden desserts! Bananas taste absolutely delicious cooked on a barbeque. Just wrap each banana in silver foil and put onto the barbeque. They will need around half an hour, or maybe slightly more, to cook but the wait is worth it and your heart will love all the potassium that each banana delivers. They’re great served on their own or with some crème fraiche.
Another spin on the traditional barbeque food, a tuna burger is low in saturated fat but contains some of the healthy essential omega 3’s, plus it’s really easy to make! All you need is some fresh tuna steak, some basil, mint, spring onions, coriander and some lemon whizzed up in the food processor and then made into burger rounds. These are great served with some salad leaves and fresh buffalo tomatoes, sprinkled with fresh basil, olive oil and a wedge of lemon.
English asparagus is currently in season and it’s absolutely delicious cooked on the barbeque. It’s also a nutritional power-house, providing high amounts of immune-boosting Vitamin C, and giving you a good hit of the B vitamins, particularly folic acid (needed for healthy pregnancies) and potassium (which is great for the heart).
In addition, asparagus also helps to feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut keeping your bowels and digestion in smooth working order. It only needs a few minutes on the heat and is great served with a little butter and sprinkled with salt.
So sizzle your way through the summer this year with some delicious but healthy barbeque alternatives and keep your weight and health in check at the same time!
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