Barbecuing can be a fun way to cook food and get the whole family engaged with making dinner. Many people associate it with fatty steaks and delicious greasy burgers, but a good BBQ doesn’t have to revolve around unhealthy amounts of meat. You can have a delicious, healthy barbecue that everybody will enjoy during a lovely warm evening. Read on to find out how.
Charcoal vs gas
Charcoal grills produce a flavor that many people prefer, but when you’re looking at it from a health perspective, you might want to choose gas. There are many different types of BBQ grills, including electric, but cooking with charcoal infuses your meat with heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are believed to increase your risk of cancer.
If you eat meat, you can get a lot healthier simply by watching your cuts. Going for leaner cuts will reduce your saturated fat intake, which is better for your heart and your whole body. It can be more expensive to buy leaner meat, but you get more meat and less fat so many think it’s worth it. A fattier cut helps to keep your meat moist through the cooking process, but you can tenderize the meat with a marinade to make up for this. Make sure you put something acidic in the marinade, like lemon or vinegar, as this will help to make the meat softer and tastier if thinly sliced, in the same way that marbled fat does. Try to make your own marinade. It can comprise just four common ingredients and will result in you ingesting much less salt than if you use shop-bought marinade.
You should also barbecue vegetables alongside the meat. Skewers are great because you can add onion, pepper, zucchini, eggplant and more. If you marinade mushrooms in soy source and some oil, you’ll get a lovely meaty taste for a vegetable.
Sausages and other processed meats
Processed meats like sausages do have rules around them – they need to be a certain percentage of real meat with a limited amount of filler, but expect a huge variation between different products. Try to go for sausages that are as healthy as possible – avoid frankfurters due to their high levels of preservatives, flavorings, colorings and low-quality meat that comes from off-cuts, trimmings and of course mechanically recovered meat, which in some countries can’t even be called meat on the label. Both premium and economy sausages contain very similar amounts of salt and fat, so if you’re thinking about your heart, maybe give sausages a miss entirely. There are healthier meats on offer too – try to go for a delicious fish, or if you’re looking to indulge, Thai BBQ river prawns are incredibly delicious.
It’s great to have salads, but you need to think about the dressings that you use on your vegetables. Potato salad with heaps of mayo tastes great, but watch out for its high fat and salt content. Instead, try to go for lighter options if available. If you’re using mayo, you could also mix in some low-fat yoghurt, which will help to keep the creamy flavor.