We all enjoy the British summer, those two weeks where the sun peeks its head out from behind the clouds and everyone rejoices before getting the deck chairs out of the shed and queuing up for a 99 from the ice cream man.
Summer, though, wouldn’t be the same without one of the most vital components – the barbecue.
Healthy barbecues are completely possible, but how can you turn this bastion of the summer into an altogether healthier event? We explain how.
1. Try not to overcook your food
Imagine, you’re in the summer sun, with dinner grilling away while you’re chatting with friends, and then all of a sudden ten minutes has passed, and the food is looking a bit burnt
It’s vitally important that we keep an eye on the BBQ at all times this summer. Not just because nobody likes being stuck with that charcoal-black veggie burger, but because burnt food can do some serious damage to your health.
We’re all aware of the dangers of undercooking but overcooking food can be just as bad. There have been numerous studies linking blackened or burnt food to some different types of cancer.
So make sure you’re cooking your food but don’t overdo it.
2. Consume in moderation, however tasty your food looks
The best way to avoid BBQ pitfalls is to treat it like any other day. Don’t get carried away, as always, it’s all about moderation and not trying to break the record for how many burgers you can fit in one bun.
There’s nothing wrong with a veggie burger or corn on the cob, but don’t overdo it with the fat or protein. There are seven whole food groups we need to address, and in fact, it’s easier than you think to get all the good stuff while it’s barbecue season.
3. Skewer those veggies
Enjoy your treats but always make sure you’re giving your body what it needs.
A simple way of doing that is the classic Caprese kebab where you simply skewer some multi-coloured tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, easy as that. A few slices of pepper or even onion will add a different taste and texture too. What’s great with this is there’s little danger of overcooking. Just wait until the mozzarella is a little gooey and you’re set. An obvious alternative is a nice simple mushroom skewer which you can sprinkle your favourite herbs and spices over.
4. Try grilling some fruity favourites
It’s not an option that many people choose, but another quick and easy way to get your five a day during BBQ season is to grill some fruit. There are so many options; it’s just about how creative you want to get.
Grilled peaches or pineapples
Peaches and pineapples are most people’s go-to choice, and rightly so. Both are great for a quick grill; add a dollop of crème fraiche on top and you’ve got a fruity treat.
Watermelon, but keep your eye on it!
Don’t shy away from the more unusual choices though, such as watermelon, which is a great option, but one you have to keep a keen eye on while it grills.
Apples turn super sweet
Apples are another. Most people think of more tropical fruits as the standard for grilling, but apples sweeten on the BBQ for a delicious result.
5. Think outside the box
Sure, summer is a time to enjoy those traditional favourites on the BBQ, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to try something a little different.
Veggie skewers stuffed full of goodness
Quickly grill up those veggie skewers or fruit while you wait for a soft sweet potato to finish cooking perhaps. They’re packed full of goodness including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Fill it with chickpeas and spinach, or get creative and try your own filling.
Grilled flatbread with fresh rocket, red onion and natural yoghurt
Bread doesn’t have to be completely off the table either. A nice grilled flatbread can act as the perfect plate for a makeshift salad. A little rocket, shredded red onion, olive, feta and a dollop of natural yoghurt is a low calorie, veggie feast.
Say “Hola” to some healthy quesadillas
Another option is quesadillas, which again are so simple but incredibly tasty. Get a couple of whole-wheat wraps and fill them with all that good stuff: peppers, mushrooms, courgette, cucumber, and red onion. Add a sprinkling of mozzarella and anything else you fancy. Again, there’s simply so many options; it’d be a crime not to try to make your own individual masterpiece.
Veggie burgers with pineapple and shredded carrot
If you’re really desperate for that veggie burger though, don’t forget to mix it up a little. Try yours with a slice of pineapple, and remember that a little shredded carrot can go a long way.
One thing to take away from this is that anything can be healthy if you get creative enough. There are so many options out there that lie unexplored.
Looking for some more BBQ inspiration? We think you’ll love these recipes: