Make the most of your barbecues this summer!
We all like to get the best out of barbecue season — probably because we only get to enjoy it for a few glorious weeks every year. Yet among good company and great food, it can be easy for healthy eating habits to fall by the wayside. Joana da Silva, safefood dietitian, has lots of tips for you.
We tend to eat a bit more at barbecues, we love to graze and try everything. One easy way to keep things balanced is to ensure that half of your plate is made up of vegetables. Both salads and barbecued veggies are tasty options.
The main ingredient of an Irish barbecue is meat, and there’s often a tendency to go for sausages and burgers, which are mostly on the fattier side. A healthier option might be to choose lean cuts of meat like chicken, or fish as an alternative. Chicken and turkey burgers are great and some fish, such as salmon or cod, grills really well. Try making kebabs - grab some wooden skewers skewers and alternate between pieces of meat and vegetables on the skewer, then grill.
Upping the veggie count on the barbecue grill is also easier than you might think. The safefood website has plenty of great recipes – try these chickpea and sweet potato burgers, or vegetable kebabs. They’re also a great side to have with the meat or fish dishes.
If you’d like to try to get more vegetables onto your kids’ plates, mix minced beef and grated vegetables 50/50 — they often don’t notice the difference. Or, as an alternative to meat altogether, halloumi cheese, corn on the cob or large mushrooms can also be grilled.
When the sun is shining, it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of refreshing, crisp salads, served as a nutritious side. These will give you some fibre and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Yet even in the healthiest salads, hidden calories can be lurking.
A lot of the bottled sauces and marinades have added sugar, so it’s a good idea to really watch the quantity you use. To flavour food without the calories, things like herbs and spices, or lemon juice and natural yoghurt work as great alternatives. Choose dressings based on juices, mustard or balsamic vinegar, as opposed to creamy dressings.
Grill up dessert
A very simple way of boosting a barbecue’s healthy factor is to add some fruit to the menu. Any way to get fruit in is a good way. Barbecuing bananas or peaches makes them lovely and caramelised, and a fruit salad is always popular in the nice weather.
Children are curious about food anyway, so they’ll find it interesting and novel to have a fruit kebab. Instead of serving ice-cream with them, freeze natural yoghurt mixed with their favourite fruits. They’ll be much more likely to eat them and enjoy them that way.