Protein-conscious eaters tend to enjoy barbecues year-round in other countries, but in the warm weather (on the very lucky few days we get it in this country) the BBQ often becomes a dinner mainstay. There is something special about eating outdoors, we have become a nation who love to do it on the odd occasions when the sun does shine. There is nothing to beat the irresistible smells of freshly cooked food on a barbecue, mix this with friends and family and its no wonder we drag the BBQ grill out at the first ray of sunshine.
I have good news for you, BBQ food can be very healthy and relatively low in calories as well as scrumptious. Grilling is the leanest way to cook and some of the fat in the meat will sizzle away. I frequently can be heard telling my clients that barbecues are a great way to eat out without sabotaging your fat loss goals.
Here are some simple ideas based on foods that can be bought in almost any local shop in the country. These ideas are protein packed and full of antioxidants and great for anyone’s fitness and nutrition goals.
Kebabs bring together protein, vegetables and fruit together in a burst of colour. The are simple to make with lean meat, chicken breast, prawns, fish skewered together with some fresh summer veg or fruit. The only limitation is your imagination. Try delicious cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, peppers, courgettes or apple and pineapple chunks… whatever takes your fancy! Simply put your chosen ingredients onto skewers, brush with a little marinade for extra flavour and grill on the BBQ until meat is cooked and veggies are roasted and slightly charred around the edges.
To avoid bland and boring meats why not try marinating, create your simple marinades and avoid calorie and sugar laden shop bought ones. To marinade some chicken, try 4 chicken breasts, 2 tablespoons of clear honey, 1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce, juice of a lime and a clove of garlic. Mix up all the marinade, stir in chicken cubes, leave overnight and then thread onto skewers and BBQ.
Salmon is brilliant for the BBQ, it looks good, tastes great and is packed with protein and healthy fats so you can feel good about eating it. Why don’t you place a salmon fillet on a piece of tinfoil, and slice some lemons pacing them on top of the fridge and marinate overnight. The next day squeeze excess juice from lemons onto fish and cook on the barbecue for about 10 minutes – depending on thickness of fillet. Serve with some crispy fresh salad, Greek yogurt or seasonal vegetables of choice.
Potatoes are my healthy carb of choice. They are so versatile, full of nutrients, fibre and almost every enjoys them in some form. Simply wrap them in tinfoil and place directly on the coals under the grilling shelf. Leave them for approx an hour depending on size, whilst you cook the rest. I recently tried a new gorgeous potato recipe at a BBQ, so let me share the method with you. Boil new potatoes until tender, then drain, toss with a tiny glug of olive oil ( 1 tbsp for 4 portions), garlic, slat and pepper (rosemary if available) then toss onto a sheet of tin foil that’s been coated in olive oil. Create a parcel by folding edges tightly. Turn every once in a while, resulting in delicious roasties!
On the side
I consider the meat the “star of the show” at barbecues. However you can get creative whilst being healthy and nutritious with your side orders. A bit of pre-planning will ensure a nutritious section of accompaniments. Steer clear of shop bought coleslaws, potato salads and pasta dishes. Create wraps for your chicken and steaks by rolling them in romaine lettuce , you can typically get more “wraps” out of them than with a head of iceberg. Make your own simple salad dressings by mixing olive oil, 1 teaspoon honey and some wholegrain mustard, with a squeeze of some lemon juice. Try some freshly boiled rice (toss in some pineapple, or mango mushrooms, peppers…use that imagination. For a side salad try cos cos with roasted veg, garlic and herbs, this can be cooked in advance and kept for a day or two. Corn of the cob is also a delicious side order, pre-boil it until tender and grill and turn unit slightly charred on outside, add some butter for taste. For the adventurous, try rubbing some chilli powder onto butter coated corn. WARNING: HOT!
Remember that although you may be eating nutrient dense proteins, carbohydrates and fats at the BBQ, portion control still has to be the predominant factor. If you suck at portion control, the load up on healthy foods before going over there. Its amazing how much less appetising food can become when your stomach has put up the “no vacancy” sign.