Healthy BBQs made easy

Now that those long summer evenings have arrived with family and friends dropping around for visits, we have numerous reasons to take out that barbeque.

Here are some tasty, simple, and inexpensive tips to make your BBQ healthy and tasty and wow your nearest and dearest. Almost any food can be grilled on the BBQ to make a tasty meal; you just need to use your imagination. Healthy foods can be as tasty and delicious as the traditional BBQ meats.

Cut the fat – Choose lean cuts of meat, skinless chicken and turkey pieces, and vegetables instead of the traditional burgers, sausages, or ribs. Cut the visible fat off meat and remove the skin from chicken breasts, wings, and legs (the visible fat on meat and skin on chicken is high in saturated fat ).

Try marinating your meats to ensure your meats are moist and flavourful. Here is a simple marinade that can be used on most lean meats but is particulary good on chicken.

Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic – crushed

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 small onion – chopped

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Cut lean meat/ chicken into bite sized chunks or bigger strips (as you prefer ).

Put into the marinade and leave overnight in the fridge.

You can then barbeque whole or place on skewers and barbeque.

With skewers, try adding some vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, peppers, courgette or aubergine, pineapple chunks, apple slices (remember to cut into 1/4 inch cubes ). Simply put your chosen combination of meats, vegetables, and fruit pieces onto skewers and brush with a little olive oil or low calorie cooking spray and grill over the BBQ until the meat is cooked and tender and the vegetables are roasted and charred around the edges.

Fish – Oily varieties of fish are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to provide heart health benefits. Try tuna steaks and salmon fillets. Place a tuna steak or salmon fillet onto a sheet of tin-foil large enough to make an envelope around the fish. Slice a lemon and squeeze the juice over the fish, season with cracked black pepper and basil and wrap the foil to make an envelope and place in the refrigerator overnight (to allow the flavours to fuse ). Grill on the BBQ for about 10-15 minutes, depending on thickness of the piece of fish, and accompany with a fresh wholemeal roll and tossed green salad.

Bread, baps and rolls – Choose wholemeal, wholegrain, and granary varieties of these instead of white varieties. Wholegrains and fibre have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels when included as part of a balanced diet. White breads with added fibre or smooth wholemeal breads are good sources of fibre for people who do not like grainy breads. Use butter, spreads, and olive oil sparingly on your breads (remember all spreads and oils are 100 per cent fat ). Also use brown rice and wholemeal pasta when making side dishes instead of white varieties of these.

Side dishes – Do not just limit your side dishes to salads and try to avoid high fat salads and dressings such as coleslaw, creamy pasta salad, potato salad, and mayonnaise. Try a tossed green salad with low fat salad dressing, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, roasted vegetables with balsamic vinegar, baked potatoes, and cous cous with roasted vegetables. Try cooking jacket potatoes, they are easy to cook on the BBQ. Simply wrap them in tin foil and place directly on the coals under the shelf and leave them for approx an hour (depending on the size ), whilst you cook the rest of your BBQ meal.

Salt – Do not add salt to your food when cooking or at the table, instead, use herbs, spices and fruit juices to season food. Try cracked black pepper, basil, bay leaf, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, chilli powder, oregano, paprika, parsley, thyme, or dry mustard for more flavour without the salt. Try sprinkling some of the above herbs and spices onto your meats and then cook it as you usually do. Or, mix some spices with plain bread crumbs and then coat your meat, poultry or fish with the crumbs and grill on your BBQ!

Finally, remember to enjoy the summer months and embrace the long stretch in the evenings by spending time with family and friends going swimming, walking and cycling. It is important that we all make time to take part in regular physical activity for good health.

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