It’s certainly been warm here in the UK over the past few days. Perhaps you’ve been dusting off the cobwebs on the barbecue? Do you follow barbecue best practice?
If you’re firing up the barbie as we speak, be aware that barbecues can seriously derail your health and fitness plan. In this post, we’ll give you some tips on barbecue best practice so you can keep on track with your weight loss or health and fitness goals.
Typical barbecue food
Let’s start by looking at a typical barbecue. See how many of these things apply to you
- Nibbles, beers and wine while you’re cooking and preparing
- Burger in a white bap, processed cheese slice, fried onions
- Sausage in a buttered white finger roll, lashings of ketchup
- Ribs in a barbecue sauce
- Garlic bread accompaniment
- Potato salad, thick with mayonnaise
- Home made coleslaw, thick with mayonnaise
- Big leafy salad, with avocado and pine nuts, drizzled with olive oil
- Tomato and mozzarella salad
- More beers and wine, another burger or sausage. Might as well finish off the ribs.
You may have noticed that I have deliberately listed calorific food items here. That’s because it’s pretty typical barbecue fodder. You’ll often get in the spirit with some nibbles like hand-cooked crisps, Pringles, nuts and cheese twists with oily dips. And then the meat on the barbecue is processed fatty choices. If your barbecue is constantly flaming, it’s because the fat from the food is dripping onto the coals. But then even the healthy foods can be calorific if they are prepared with high-fat foods and have a fatty accompaniment like mayonnaise, pine nuts, avocado, mozzarella and olive oil. The whole meal will have an enormously high fat and calorie content. And while you perceive you’ve had a healthy meal, you’ve actually had unhealthy amounts of fat and put on a pound in weight.
An alternative approach
So what would be barbecue best practice? How can you enjoy a barbecue and stay on track with your health and fitness goals?
Let’s start with the nibbles. Crudites such as slices of carrot, pepper, cucumber and celery would go nicely with a salsa or yoghurt-mint dip. That’s a low-fat alternative that will whet your appetite.
Next, shun the burgers, sausages, and ribs. Instead, try making your own skewers. Get some lean protein – chicken breast, turkey, lean steak, lean pork, monkfish – and cut it into chunks. Next, alternate pieces of protein with slices of pepper, onion, mushroom or whatever else you fancy. Apply a few squirts of cooking spray before cooking and away you go! Use metal skewers to ensure the meat is cooked in the middle.
Finally, for accompaniments, make the following swaps. Swap
- The potato salad for hot new potatoes. No butter, no mayo, just spuds.
- The greasy coleslaw for coleslaw made with part low-fat mayonnaise, part yoghurt and extra seasoning.
- The tomato and mozzarella salad for tomato, basil and red onion salad.
- The olive oil drizzle on the salad for dressing on the side or, better still, a simple balsamic-only dressing. Keep the pine nuts and avocado as they are healthy and you need some essential fats in the meal and for your health.
Other ideas for accompaniments might include a brown rice salad crammed with chopped veggies, or a similar dish using quinoa.
Now that the amended salad offering is low fat and low calorie, you can fill your face with it. If you want to feel full and satisfied, then go heavy on the salad. Even the skewers are a great low calorie alternative to the usual fodder, so two of those isn’t going to ruin your waistline.
So, if you follow our barbecue best practice, you’ll have a meal that is super healthy and calorie sparse, so you can fill your boots without letting the calorie-worry spoil the day.