How to make your barbecue healthier

Nothing says summer quite like the sizzle of the grill. Enjoy your BBQ whilst keeping it healthy.

Go fish

Grilled fish can be a delicious, healthy alternative to red meat on the barbecue. Rich in heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids, fish has been linked to a number of health benefits, from supporting your brain function and mental health to helping lower blood cholesterol. Choose fresh fish like salmon, mackerel, trout and herring and enjoy a tasty protein hit, with less fat than your usual burgers and snags.

Fill up on vegetables

Meat isn’t the only thing you can grill on the barbecue – grilling vegetables is a great way to bring out their deep, rich flavour. Tomatoes, mushrooms and onions are tasty barbecue staples, but you can also add colour and variety with asparagus, corn on the cob, broccoli, capsicum, zucchini, eggplant, or any other veggies you can think of. Try a simple marinade of olive oil, salt and crushed black pepper, and fill up your plate – or get some skewers and make colourful vegetable kebabs.

Choose healthier cuts of meat

You can make a big difference in lowering the fat content of your barbecue by choosing leaner cuts of meat. Choose ‘loin’ or ‘round’ cuts of red meat and pork, look for ‘choice’ or ‘select’ grades of beef rather than ‘prime’, and trim off the excess fat before cooking. If you love burgers, a healthier option than many pre-made patties is to buy extra lean ground beef (or ground chicken, turkey or lentils!) and make your own.

Remove the skin from chicken

Choose chicken breasts instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs) and remember to remove the skin first – the skin soaks up all the juices and fat while it’s cooking.

Skip heavy marinades and condiments 

Lighten up the salt, sugar and fat content of your barbecue by swapping heavy, preservative-filled marinades with simple ingredients like olive oil and fresh herbs and spices. The same goes for tomato sauce, barbecue sauces and salad dressings – these are often laden with corn syrup and preservatives, so look for healthier varieties whenever you can. Yogurt-based sauces and marinades can also be a great option for barbecued food

Get creative with salads

Fresh, light and full of flavour, salads are the perfect way to balance out your barbecue meal. Serve up green leafy salads with nutritious ingredients like quinoa, almonds, strawberries, orange slices, chickpeas, brown rice, low-fat feta, and a range of fresh veggies.

Serve healthier snacks

Ditch the bag of potato chips and try raw veggies like carrot, cherry tomatoes, capsicum and celery sticks served with a yummy low-fat dip.

Drink lots of water 

Stay hydrated while you’re out in the sun. Skip the Coke and drink plenty of water. If you want something a little more exciting, try some unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water or fresh fruit juice for a refreshing summery drink.

Try grilling fruits 

Throw some sliced pineapple, nectarines, plums and peaches on the barbecue for a great healthy desert. The natural sugars caramelise with the heat, bringing out a scrumptious flavour.

Go for whole-grain breads

Add flavour and texture to your burger with whole-grain breads and rolls with plenty of fibre. There are plenty of nutritious and interesting options available – look for rye, linseed and buckwheat, to name a few.

Recommended reading - Issue Nine Spring 2014

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