Get Set to Barbecue

With the gorgeous summer weather in full swing, it’s the perfect time to get out of the kitchen and fire up your barbecue! Barbecues are an iconic Australian tradition – an easy way to entertain, and great when catering for bigger groups.

Barbecues are an excellent way of cooking healthy and nutritious options, just be sure to choose carefully and watch out for hidden calories and fats. Check out our handy tips for healthy barbecuing.

Healthy choices

Whether you’re attending a barbecue or hosting one yourself, there are plenty of opportunities for making healthy choices. BYO is a great policy when it comes to barbecuing, as you can ensure that you’ll be able to enjoy nutritious foods you love. Bring along a salad or some veggies to grill on the barbecue when you’re visiting friends or family, so you can be sure you’ll have something healthy to eat.

Here are some hints for making healthy barbecue choices:

  • Choose seafood. Barbecued fish, prawns, calamari, scallops and other seafood are delicious, healthy choices which provide great sources of omega-3 fatty acids – the healthy fats essential for managing inflammation, hormones, physical and cognitive wellbeing.
  • Choose reduced fat or low-fat sausages. You could save yourself up to 40 calories and 5 g of fat per sausage. Even better – opt for veggie sausages! Just be sure to check the label first to check for nasties or additives you don’t recognise, and steer clear of these.
  • Trim the visible fat off meat before eating.
  • Marinading meats before cooking can have a big impact on the flavour of your meal. Remember – marinades don’t have to be high in sugar. Marinading for just half an hour in your favourite combination of fresh herbs, citrus juice, garlic, chilli or soy sauce can turn a plain piece of meat into a delicious dish. The  Recipe section has plenty of tasty marinade ideas.
  • Add some extra antioxidants to your diet with a side of colourful vegetable kebabs. The pigments that give fruits and vegetables their colour are a source of powerful antioxidants. The more colours you include, the better! Try carrots, tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant, zucchini, beetroot, mushrooms and onions for the full spectrum of nutritious benefits.
  • Avoid full-fat salad dressings. Coleslaw and potato salad, whether home-made or commercially prepared, can be very high in fat and calories. If you can, make your own salad with a more nutritious dressing. Add lots of fresh herbs for a tasty zing and the added nutrients they offer. Extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon or lime juice are healthy and nutritious dressing options too.
  • Take it easy on the garlic bread. Most garlic bread is laden with butter and is therefore very high in fat. Choose plain bread or rolls instead – bonus points if you opt for multigrain or wholemeal varieties!

What about alcohol?

When you’re socialising and enjoying a barbecue outdoors, it’s easy to knock back a couple of beers or several glasses of wine without thinking twice. And since alcohol lessens your resolve, often this goes hand in hand with grabbing an additional handful of chips or an extra sausage or two at the same time.

Try to stick to just one or two glasses of wine or beer, spaced out with lots of water or diet soft drinks in between. This way you’ll be much more in control of your choices than if you simply throw caution to the wind, and indulge in excess alcohol.

Alcohol also lessens your body’s ability to burn fat. The body treats alcohol as a toxin, so it gives priority to metabolising alcohol over other calories consumed. This means that any excess food you eat while drinking is stored as fat. And a lot of this fat is stored around the belly area – a health danger zone.

Salty foods, such as sausages, will create a continual thirst for several hours. Quench your thirst with water or diet soft drinks, instead of alcohol.

For more articles and guides on drinking alcohol, check out the ‘Alcohol’ section in our Library.

Summer food safety

Hot summer weather, flies and insects can increase your risk of food poisoning. However with a few simple precautions, you can look after the health of yourself and your family.

Here are some tips to help keep your food safe this summer:

  • Transport food in an Esky or other type of cold pack
  • Keep all foods in covered containers or cover with plastic wrap
  • Don’t leave food sitting in the sun – keep it cool in the fridge until you’re ready to eat
  • Don’t let cooked foods sit around at room temperature – put them straight back into the fridge or Esky when you’ve finished eating
  • Wash your hands well before handling food
  • Don’t reuse plates, boards or trays that have had raw meat on them

Implement these simple strategies and tips for healthier, more nutritious barbecues, and you may just find they become one of your favourite things to enjoy during the warmer months!

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