It’s no secret that barbecue season is here – fantastic news for most of us! However, it’s very easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to deciding what side dishes to have with the main event.
Bearing in mind that it’s still important to try and make every meal count from a nutritional perspective, then these sides can really pack a punch on that front too.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her five favourite sides for your barbecue this summer.
Delicious summer salad
It’s time to think beyond a few green leaves for a summer salad. Leaves are great and certainly rocket and watercress have many health benefits, both being high in energising folate. However, this one really brings great taste and nutrition too.
At this salad’s heart are black beans (tinned are easily accessible). Beans are an often-forgotten protein, and they also contain lots of antioxidants. Add some avocado which is rich in vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant and great for the skin. Include delicious vine ripened tomatoes, sliced red onion (a rich source of health-giving plant flavonoids), cucumber and crumbled feta. Just pour over some dressing of your choice, and if it’s got olive oil as a base, you’ll be getting some benefits for the heart too. This salad is nourishing, filling, and energising.
Get the taste and feel of the Mediterranean with griddled aubergine, red peppers, onions, courgettes, and tomatoes. If ever a salad was competing to be colourful whilst packing a nutrient punch, it would win hands down! Once griddled, the veggies can be sprinkled with herbs of your choice but dried or fresh thyme, olive oil, lemon and chopped parsley work really well.
We know from lots of research that the people who live in Mediterranean countries, or follow the same diet, tend to live longer, and generally suffer with less disease. The Mediterranean diet is rich in antioxidants which helps to protect the body from damaging free radicals and this salad certainly delivers on this aspect.
If you like tempura vegetables, you’ll love this recipe. Many people avoid cauliflower because it can be tasteless and have a soggy texture if over-cooked. However, cauliflower belongs to the super-healthy cruciferous vegetable family, which all contain amazing compounds that help with liver detoxification and hormone balance.
Whisk up some batter using flour and milk, and add some garlic, which is great for the digestion and heart. Coat the cauliflower florets in the batter and then some breadcrumbs (homemade or shop-bought) bake in the oven, and then serve with chopped spring onions and some chilli sauce. You don’t even need a barbecue to serve this one up!
Protein kicker salad
This is another dish that can stand alone but also makes a great side to the barbecue, providing plenty of protein (around 20 grams per serving). Many people would traditionally use rice in this one, as it’s a twist on a curried rice salad, but by using quinoa, you’re upping the protein and fibre content.
Simply cook the quinoa in some stock, whilst hard-boiling some eggs and frying some onion. Bring everything together with some raisins, chopped coriander, curry paste and ground turmeric. This dish not only provides some powerful tastes, but the combination of foods is a balanced meal on its own too.
Potato salad Plus
Potato salad can’t really be left off the menu when it comes to planning barbecue sides. And it doesn’t need to be! Potatoes are a rich source of immune-boosting vitamin C and fibre, plus they’ll provide loads of sustainable energy too.
Why not reduce the amount of mayonnaise and add some natural yoghurt instead? Natural yoghurt is a great source of probiotics which help feed the gut bacteria and support overall health and wellness, not just in the digestive tract. Plus, adding some spring onions which are packed with antioxidants and work as a natural antihistamine, provide extra support if you happen to be a hay fever sufferer.
So, why not try one or all five of these super salads? Your barbecue just got a whole lot healthier and tastier!
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