The good weather is finally here and we’re sure you’re all thinking about how to spend more time enjoying the outdoors. Long, lazy lunches, sunshine and socialising, fresh produce – well, how about bringing all of those great things together and throwing a summertime BBQ?
Whether you’re hosting a BBQ or have been asked to bring a dish along to a friend’s, we’ve got some great ideas of what to throw on the barbie without blowing your healthy eating plans.
Make your own patties
Taking the time to whip up your own burgers will not only bring extra flavour to your BBQ but will be far healthier too. Don’t buy processed patties; experiment with your own recipes instead! Shop for a mince that’s lower in fat (lean and extra lean options are available at all big supermarkets) then get creative with herbs and spices. Try beef and chicken mince with asian spices, sausage meat with Italian spices or lamb mince with curry spices. Making your burgers in advance and storing in the fridge will help bring out the flavours and also help your patties to hold together better (you can also add an egg to help bind the mixture). Use squares of baking paper to separate and prevent them from sticking together.
Wrap it up
Some of our favourite BBQ items are served up in bread. Swapping white out for wholemeal is a fast way to make a simple, health-conscious choice, without missing out too much. How about trying a flat bread or tortilla wrap? Pack a pocket pitta full of succulent meat and crispy vegetables and you’re in for a tasty treat. If you’re watching your carbohydrate intake and want to stay bread-free, think of some BBQ dishes that could work in a lettuce wrap instead, just as slices of steak or chicken breast, chargrilled vegetables or prawns skewers.
BBQs can quickly become meat heavy, but with a little bit of thought, there are some great vegetarian and veg-packed options too. Corn on the cob is heaven when cooked on the barbie; sprinkle over some chilli flakes or crumbled feta for an added boost. Portobello mushrooms and halloumi slices can beef up a burger or be a great alternative for vegetarians. Chargrill pepper halves and aubergine slices, or alternatively cook them whole then blitz the flesh in a blender to make a variety of wonderful veggie dips, such as red pepper hummus or baba ganoush.
Not your ordinary salad
Although a slice of crisp lettuce can bring a zing of fresh flavour to a burger or wrap, a limp looking salad is nobody’s cup of tea at a BBQ. Fill up on something delicious instead. Start with your starch, then add in all your favourite flavours. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Couscous + cooked beetroot + soft goats cheese + dried apricots
Rice + tinned sweetcorn + red peppers + kidney beans + avocado
New potatoes + spring onions + peas + mint + drizzle of olive oil
Raising a glass
Shop around for low or non-alcoholic beers and wines if you’re trying to cut back on the booze this summer or, better still, make a summer drink that the whole family can enjoy. Blend the flesh of one large watermelon (pips removed) with a bottle of soda water, and lemon juice and sugar (to taste) to make a fabulous watermelon cooler. Add mint and lime juice to soda water for a mojito mocktail, or mix up a Pimm’s alternative with lemonade, pomegranate juice and slices of strawberry, orange and cucumber.