With the gorgeous summer weather in full swing, it’s the perfect time for ditching the kitchen and firing up the barbecue! Barbecues are a way of life for most Australians – an easy way to entertain and great for family get-together.
Barbecues can provide plenty of healthy choices, as long as you choose carefully and watch out for hidden calories and fat. Check out our handy tips for healthy barbecuing.
Whether you are going to 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 have low-fat foods on hand. Bring along a salad or a low-fat dip when you’re visiting friends or family so that you can be sure you’ll have something healthy to nibble on.
Here are some hints for making healthy barbecue choices:
- Choose seafood. Barbecued fish, prawns, calamari, scallops or other seafood are delicious, healthy choices that are great sources of omega 3 fatty acids – the good oils.
- Choose reduced-fat or low-fat sausages. You could save yourself up to 40 calories and 5 g of fat per sausage.
- Trim the visible fat off meat.
- Marinading meats before cooking can have a big impact on the flavour of your meal. 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 colourful vegetable kebabs. The pigments that give fruits and vegetables their colour are powerful antioxidants. The more colours you include, the better! Try carrots, tomatoes, capsicum, eggplant, zucchini, beetroot, mushrooms and onions for the full spectrum.
- Avoid full-fat salad dressings. Coleslaw and potato salad, whether home-made or commercially prepared, may be very high in fat and calories. If you can, make your own salad with a fat-free dressing. Add lots of fresh herbs for a tasty zing and the added nutrient bonus.
- 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.
For a fun way to find out how the calories of barbecue foods add up, try our interactive Barbecue Create-A-Meal – you can find a link to it at the bottom of this article.
What about alcohol?
When you’re outside socialising and enjoying a barbecue, it’s easy to knock back a couple of beers or several glasses of wine. This makes it even easier to grab a handful of chips or an extra sausage or two, as alcohol can lessen your resolve. Try to drink only 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 stronger than if you throw caution to the wind and indulge in excess alcohol.
Alcohol also lessens the 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, not alcohol.
For more articles on alcohol, check out the ‘Alcohol’ section in the Library. You can also consult the alcohol guide in the Pocket Calorie, Fat & Carbohydrate Counter.
Summer food safety
Hot summer weather, flies and insects can increase the risk of food poisoning. 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