It would not be a true Aussie Summer without a good old fashioned BBQ and the good news is that the humble BBQ can be an exceptionally healthy option, if you get the right mix of snags, salads and side dishes. So here is a run-down on how to put together a tasty BBQ, with far fewer calories and fat than you would even think possible.
1) Be fussy with your meat choices.
Traditional thick sausages, lamb chops, chicken thighs and hamburger patties can contain as much as 20-30g of fat per serve, and as we tend to load up at social BBQ’s, the calories really add up. Simply choosing lean proteins such as Extra Lean Sausages from Aussie brand Peppercorn; extra lean mince for hamburgers, chicken tenderloins or breast rather than thighs or wings and lean steak is the easiest way to improve the nutritional quality of any BBQ. Another great option is to incorporate more seafood into your BBQ. White fish, calamari and prawns are all relatively low in calories which means you can swap some of the red meat or chicken for a lower calorie option to help fill your plate up.
2) Watch your portions.
It is not uncommon to see individuals load up their plate with a few snags, piece of steak and a kebab skewer, which is 2-3 times the amount of protein that we really need. Remain mindful of your portions and try and limit to no more than your hand size serving of meat. This equates to 120-150g in total for women and 200-250g for men. In general, a lean sausage is 100g or a meat skewer contains 75-100g meat. Incorporating some fish or prawns into the mix will also help to lower the calories without losing the bulk of your meal.
3) Do not forget the vegetables
While we often add in some extra mushies or onions to the BBQ mix, let’s not forget all of the other vegetables that taste just as great barbequed. Zucchini strips, red capsicum, diced pumpkin, eggplant and asparagus can either be grilled on the hot plate of cooked in foil with a little oil and taste fantastic. You can then team your veges with a little goat’s cheese or olive oil and balsamic glaze for a delicious side to any protein that is served. Another trick is to load your plate up first with at least 2 cups or 1/3 -1/2 a plate with salad or vegetables. Not only do you then get all the nutritional benefits that vegetables offer but there is less room for anything else!
4) Focus on lighter salads
Forget the old traditional favourites – potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad – these options are packed full of fat and / or carbs and there are plenty of better options out there that will still give you great flavour but much more nutrition and fewer calories. Try a green salad packed full of leafy greens, olives and feta, beetroot salad or even a homemade tabouli. The more salad ingredients and leafy greens in the mix, the more nutritious your salad will be and do not forget a dressing made with some extra virgin olive oil to not only bring out the flavour of the salad but to also help enhance nutrient absorption.
5) Watch the extras
Sauces, bread, butter, soft drinks, chips and nibbles are all extras that tend to pop up at social BBQ’s and foods we end up eating mindlessly out of habit. Try and avoid as many pre BBQ nibbles as you can, and even consider taking your own vege and hommus plate of dips so you do have something healthy to munch on if you need. Skip the bread and any sugared drinks and limit yourself to a single serve of sauce with your BBQ meat. Surely it is better to save these extra calories for a small serve of dessert if that is also on offer!?