BBQ mainstays have a tendency to be loaded with fat, salt, sugar, and calories. I’m going to give you some guidelines with delicious options that you can enjoy if you’re wanting to lose weight, or eat healthier.
First rule is not to deprive yourself of the food you love. Enjoy your food and not feel guilty. There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food only healthy and unhealthy diets. Don’t forget eating is the most pleasurable and sociable aspect of life and no better way to do it than barbecuing. So portion control is going to be absolutely essential so you can still enjoy your favourite dish.
A simple trick for eating healthy at your BBQ is to DIY—offer to bring a dish you know is healthy. That way, you’re contributing, and you know there will be a trusty option to fall back on.
Focus on filling your plate with foods that are high in nutritional value:
So if we look our protein group first:
- Aim for lean varieties of protein foods.
- The best thing to do is ask your butcher to put together a BBQ selection.
- Your local butcher is often cheaper than the big supermarkets and the meat will be superior in quality. Butchers might also give you prepping & barbecuing tips.
- Go for grilled skinless chicken instead of pork or steak. Cut the visible fat off meat where possible to help cut down the saturated fat.
- Go for kebabs with lots of vegetables on them.
- Build a better burger – a beef burger with cheese can easily reach 500kcal so think healthier if you can – try making your own turkey burgers with this simple recipe – 1kg turkey mince and just 4tbsp relish, mix with your hands and form patties.
- Fish is also fantastic on the BBQ and cooks really well simply wrapping fish in tin-foil, add some rosemary and lemon juice and BBQ for 15 mins.
- Beans are a great low fat, high fibre plant protein and are lovely as a salad at BBQ’s. I have a really simple bean burger recipe which I do and it takes no time and tastes great. Drain a tin of chickpeas, mix with 100g breadcrumbs, 2 chopped sun dried tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of salsa. Mix and shape into burgers and BBQ for 5 mins.
Pay attention to your carbs:
- You really just want one or two servings of carbs on your plate. Try eating ½ the burger bun, tennis ball size of pasta on your plate.
- Or if you really want potato salad AND pasta salad, I would skip the bun.
Make veg and salad the main portion:
- Still try to fill ½ your plate with veggies or salad and try to put these on your plate before the meat, that way you’ll eat less meat and carbs.
- Remember that corn on the cob is a vegetable and one corn on the cob counts as 2 servings of vegetables.
- Veggie kebabs are really nice too by just chopping different coloured peppers, courgette, halloumi and putting on skewers.
Beautiful barbequed fruit:
- Don’t forget you can BBQ fruits also and they taste great. Place copped apricots and nectarines in a bowl and add 2tbsp maple syrup and coat the fruit well. Thread onto skewers and BBQ for 2 mins on each side until the fruit is carmalised golden brown.
- Another fun one for kids is to split a banana and insert chocolate buttons. Then wrap in tin-foil and BBQ for 5 mins.
Beware of dressings:
- White dressings are often an indicator that they are loaded with fat and calories.
- Go for a more vinaigrette with less oil or chilli or BBQ sauce
Alcoholic beverages are often high in calories:
- A single margarita can pack in more than 300 calories!)
- Alcohol also stimulates your appetite while chipping away at your resolve to eat healthier.
- If you’re going to drink, opt for light beer or distilled spirits with plenty of soda water, seltzer or other calorie-free mixers.
Don’t burn food on the BBQ:
- Try not to absolutely charr your meat as this can increase cancer causing compounds called hetrocyclic amines or HCA’s.
- Allow the flames to die down and flip food frequently to prevent crusting.
- Marinating meat 30 mins before barbequing also helps to reduce release of HCA’s