Summer is here and the BBQ is calling. In this article I’m going to share some top tips for having a healthy BBQ without being boring.
I love BBQs. I love the variety of foods you can cook on a BBQ and the social time that is around it. It’s great to enjoy the sunshine and each other’s company. But BBQs aren’t always the most balanced meals and they aren’t always the healthiest option. Why have I separated out balanced and healthy (Hint – it’s not for emphasis!)? Because a meal can be really balanced but not healthy! Yes, it’s true…keep reading…
Tips for a healthy BBQ
- Defrost your meat correctly – unless the packaging says it is safe to cook from frozen on a BBQ, it’s not. Defrost your meat thoroughly in the fridge. Don’t be tempted to leave it in the sun.
- Store raw meat at the bottom of the fridge to make sure juices don’t drip onto other food.
- Keep your food cool beforehand. It can be tempting to leave salads out when space in the fridge is limited but food should only be kept out for 90 minutes.
- Check your meat is cooked through. A meat thermometer is perfect for this. It can be so easy to char meat on a ferocious BBQ and not cook it through. You could cook the meat beforehand in the oven to make sure it is cooked and finishing it off on the BBQ.
- If there are leftovers, get them into the fridge fast. Don’t leave food out for more than 90 minutes and then have it later.
- Have your utensils for raw and cooked meat separate. This can be hard to do for a BBQ. Have a plate for cooked meat ready beforehand and keep it away from the meat you haven’t yet cooked. Don’t use the tongs which have touched raw meat on cooked meat.
- Don’t blacken your food. The blacker your food, the more nasties you are putting into your body. High levels of that blackening can increase cancer risk so it’s not something you want to be consuming a lot of regularly.
Tips for a balanced BBQ meal
- Drink plenty of water – it’s so easy to dehydrate on a hot day. Sometimes we then eat rather than drink to get hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can help with this.
- Easy on the sugary and/or alcoholic drinks – you don’t have to avoid them but slow down if you can. Get involved in conversation or games and try not to drink all the way through.
- Consider BBQ sweet potato, vegetable skewers or corn on the cob – these are filling, a good source of fibre and help you achieve your 5 a day.
- Load your plate with salads – there are so many salad options at BBQs. If you are the host, here are some options – green salad, tomato/mozzarella/basil salad, bean salad, couscous salad, potato salad, lentil based salad. Try to opt for ones with as little dressing as possible.
- Have one bun rather than lots. Opt for wholegrain if you can.
- Choose unprocessed, quality meat and fish rather than processed meat. It’s likely to be lower in salt and might be more filling. Homemade burgers or chicken skewers are often cheaper than quality shop bought ones. A homemade burger is likely to fill you up more than a cheap bought burger too.
- Easy on the sauces. It can be easy to add a lot of sauce and dressing, which can add additional salt, sugar and fat. Be choosy and enjoy the flavour of it. Add some salad to a burger for extra flavour.
- Leave space for dessert. We know it will be there. Our tendency is to eat too much main and then we feel uncomfortable eating dessert. Leave space for dessert and avoid that horrible over-full feeling.
- Slow down. Enjoy each mouthful and let the food go down before going for seconds.
- And, if you have had a lot of food, consider something lighter later.