Hot off the grill: healthy BBQ ideas

Nothing is quite as good as a BBQ on a summer’s evening; they can be a good social occasion for family or friends to sit down for a chat together. There is always the tendency with a BBQ to eat more than you planned for, but with a bit of pre-planning you can ensure that you can balance the ‘meat-fest’ out with healthier foods that are tasty and good for you. Here are a few tips to get you going in the right direction.

Meat: Choose leaner cuts of meat, and chop off any visible fat. BBQ cooking should not be a case of scorching both sides of the meat. Aim to take your time, ensuring that meat is cooked all the way through, so tell the chef to cook on a moderate heat, with no flames, and don’t flip too often. If you’re going for a cheeseburger, use grated cheese rather than ‘hunks’.

Breads: Go for the healthier, high fibre versions. Use wholegrain buns, homemade brown breads, or granary-type brown bread. It is a good idea to limit yourself to one bun rather than having several burgers or sausages all in buns or rolls. There is no need to add butter or spreads; these only increase calories!

Salads: A barbecue is the ideal opportunity to go mad with salads. Why not try out different types of lettuce, tomatoes, sweetcorn, grated carrots, or homemade coleslaw (made with low fat mayonnaise ) - all these can be livened up with the addition of dried cranberries, nuts, apples, or red onion. Bring these from the fridge to the table at the last minute so that the hot weather doesn’t make them wilt.

Drinks: Although many choose alcohol, why not alternate alcoholic drinks with some water - your head will thank you in the morning. A tasty variation on water is to add a few slices of cucumber, mint, strawberries, lemon, or lime which will give your water a bit of a zing.

Dessert: Why not try grilled bananas or apples; just add a small amount of sugar or honey and some cinnamon, wrap in tin foil, and grill on the BBQ.

Now all we need is the weather!

By Cara Cunningham, community dietitian, HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster. For more information on diet and nutrition, please contact Maria at the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster on (044 ) 9395518 or [email protected].

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