by Anne Finch, Accredited Practising Dietitian for LiveLighter

Beef kofta with tzatziki

I love taking advantage of the gorgeous summer weather and combining the outdoors with cooking delicious, healthy food.

Barbeques are a fantastic way to get friends together, but let’s be honest, sometimes the food leaves a lot to be desired. Greasy sausages and white bread often form the backbone of the meal and salad’s not always a priority. This often means a meal that is high in fat and salt and low in fibre. And chips and burnt onion scraps don’t count as vegetables!

Lift your BBQ game this summer by trying some of these sizzling suggestions…

1. Throw another veg on the barbie

It’s not just meat that benefits from the high heat grilling; it also makes vegies shine. Simply slice, brush with a little oil and cook till tender. These are some of my favourites:

  • Zucchini
  • Eggplant
  • Mushrooms
  • Capsicum
  • Corn (in the husk for a no-mess solution)

2. Choose lean meats

  • Trim the fat off of chops and steaks before cooking them
  • Choose skinless or lean sausages
  • Make your own rissoles or burgers from lean mince. Grate some vegetables into the patties for extra texture and flavour
  • Marinated chicken is a lean and tasty option (but will make a mess on the hotplate so save it till last!)

3. You can win friends with salad

Salads are often an afterthought at a barbeque. Make one that people will actually want to eat. Here are a few examples for inspiration:

  • Colourful coleslaw with a light dressing
  • Rocket, pear and parmesan
  • Watermelon, feta and mint
  • Rice or pasta salad with colourful vegetables

4. Snack smarter

Banish the sad packet of Samboys and add some colour to the table with vegie sticks and dip. Extra points for having a vegetable or yoghurt based dip like:

  • Tzatziki (also excellent as a sauce for lamb)
  • Hummus (arguably the king of dips)
  • Broccoli dip (sounds odd but is totally delicious)

Homemade spicy popcorn , mixed nuts and grainy crackers are also excellent choices for pre-dinner nibbles.

5. Drink lighter

It’s easy to down a lot of alcohol and extra kilojoules if you’re sitting in the sun next to the Esky. If you’re going to drink, try these practical tips for a less boozy BBQ. Your body will thank you for it.

  • Make every second drink a non-alcoholic one. Hot tip: put the non-alcoholic drinks in the same Esky as the alcoholic ones. That way people will see them and be reminded
  • Choose a smaller can/ bottle/ glass
  • Choose lower alcohol (light) beer
  • Finish your drink before you get another. Top-ups make it harder to count how many you’ve had
  • Make a jug of still or sparkling water with fruit and mint. We’ve got some pretty examples here

So there you have it. A few small changes to make your next BBQ more colourful, healthy and delicious. We’d love to hear about some of your BBQ go-to recipes!

[Feature image: Beef kofta with tzatziki]