HEALTHY BBQ FOOD: IDEAS, TIPS & FAQs
The BBQ is a beloved summer tradition that brings family and friends together for a tasty fire-cooked meal. While traditional barbecues often feature indulgent and calorie-laden dishes, there’s a growing trend toward healthier BBQ food that doesn’t compromise on taste. In this article, we’ll explore the world of healthy BBQ food and discover how you can savour delicious grilled food while staying fit, healthy and confident.
WHY CHOOSE HEALTHY BBQ FOOD?
Aside from helping you feel your light and summery best, choosing healthy BBQ food has plenty of other benefits.
Promotes healthier cooking methods
One of the key advantages of healthy BBQ food is the emphasis on healthier cooking methods. Instead of deep-frying or breading, grilling allows you to cook your food without excessive amounts of added fat. It also makes your meals lighter and more nutritious, ideal for staying fresh on hot summer days.
Reduces consumption of unhealthy fats
Traditional BBQ food is often drenched in high-fat sauces and oils, which can contribute to weight gain and health issues. A healthy BBQ encourages the use of leaner protein options and alternative sauces that are lower in fat. This way, you can enjoy a flavourful meal while keeping your saturated fat intake in check.
Enhances flavour with natural ingredients
Putting together some healthy BBQ food doesn’t mean sacrificing taste. In fact, it provides an opportunity to experiment with natural ingredients to enhance the flavour of your dishes. By incorporating fresh herbs, spices, and marinades made with wholesome ingredients, you can create mouth-watering BBQ food that’s both nutritious and satisfying.
THE BEST HEALTHY SNACKS TO ACCOMPANY BQQ FOOD
When you’re working up a sweat next to the grill, you’re going to need some snacks and refreshments to keep you going. Of course, your guests will be ready to work up an appetite, too. As the BBQ gets going, serve up a selection of healthy snacks and drinks like:
FIT ENERGY (best served straight from the ice bucket)
If you have a bit or extra time or help available, try making one (or more) of our five favourite summer mocktail recipes.
HEALTHY BBQ FOOD: FINDING LEAN PROTEIN OPTIONS
When it comes to BBQ food, opting for lean protein sources is always a smart choice. These protein options not only offer a leaner nutritional profile but also contribute to a more balanced meal.
Grilled chicken breasts
Chicken breasts are a staple BBQ food. They’re low in fat and high in protein, making them an excellent choice for anyone watching their calorie intake. Marinating the chicken beforehand can add moisture and flavour to the meat.
Turkey burgers are a flavourful alternative to traditional beef burgers. Ground turkey is leaner than ground beef, and it can be seasoned with various herbs and spices to create a delicious patty. Serve them on whole wheat buns or lettuce wraps to give an extra health boost to your BBQ food.
For vegetarians and veggie lovers, grilled vegetable skewers are a fantastic option for BBQ food. Load up your skewers with colourful vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and cherry tomatoes for a burst of vitamins and minerals. The natural sweetness of the vegetables intensifies when they are grilled, creating a delightful medley of flavours.
INCORPORATING NUTRIENT-RICH VEGETABLES
Vegetables are a vital part of any healthy, well-balanced diet, and grilling them adds a unique smoky taste while preserving their nutritional value. Here are some nutrient-rich vegetables that make the perfect BBQ food:
Asparagus spears are not only delicious but also packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Drizzle them with a little olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt and pepper, and grill them until they’re tender and slightly charred. The result is a delectable side dish that adds a touch of elegance to your barbecue.
Portobello mushrooms are a popular choice for vegetarian barbecue enthusiasts. With their meaty texture and rich flavour, they make a satisfying alternative to burgers. Marinate them in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, garlic, and herbs, then grill them until they become juicy and succulent.
Bell peppers come in vibrant shades of red, yellow, and green, making them not only visually appealing but super nutritious. Slice them into thick strips, brush them with a little olive oil or Smart Cooking Spray, and grill until they develop a slight char. The result is a smoky sweetness that adds depth to your BBQ food.
HEALTHY BBQ SAUCE ALTERNATIVES
Barbecue sauce is a classic accompaniment to grilled dishes, but most store-bought options are loaded with sugar and unhealthy additives. Here are some healthier alternatives to add some zing to your BBQ food:
Creating your own marinades allows you to control the ingredients and flavours. Combine pantry essentials like balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and herbs to make a marinade that complements your protein. Let the meat soak in the marinade for a few hours or overnight to infuse with flavour.
Low-sugar BBQ sauces
If you prefer the convenience of ready-made sauces, look for a low-sugar or sugar-free BBQ sauce like this one from 2BSlim. Alternatives like this still offer that tangy and smoky BBQ taste yet without the high sugar content. Always read the labels carefully to ensure you’re choosing a healthier option for your BBQ food.
Spice rubs are another excellent way to add flavour to your BBQ food without the need for sugary sauces. Create your own blend using a combination of herbs, spices, and a touch of salt. Rub the mixture onto your meat or vegetables before grilling for a burst of flavour.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER GRILLING TECHNIQUES
To ensure that your healthy BBQ food is a success, it’s essential to master the art of proper grilling techniques. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Preheating the grill
Preheating the grill is crucial for achieving even cooking and preventing food from sticking. Allow your grill to heat up for about 10 to 15 minutes before placing any items on the grates. This ensures that the heat is distributed evenly, resulting in perfectly cooked BBQ food.
Oil the grates
To prevent food from sticking to the grill, lightly brush the grates with oil before cooking. Use a high-heat cooking oil like canola or grapeseed oil, and apply it using a folded paper towel or a grill brush. This simple step makes flipping and removing your grilled items much easier.
Find the optimal cooking temperature
Different foods require different cooking temperatures to achieve the best results. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that proteins are cooked to the appropriate internal temperature, eliminating the risk of undercooking or overcooking. Additionally, be mindful of the cooking times for vegetables to retain their texture and flavour.
HEALTHY BBQ SIDE DISHES AND SALADS
A well-rounded barbecue meal is not complete without some refreshing side dishes. Here are a few ideas to complement your grilled BBQ food:
Quinoa is a versatile and nutrient-packed grain that makes an excellent base for a hearty salad. Combine some of our Pure Quinoa with an assortment of vegetables like cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and fresh herbs. Toss the salad with a light dressing made from lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt for a refreshing and satisfying side dish.
Grilled vegetable medley
Take advantage of the grill and create a medley of grilled vegetables as a side dish. Slice a variety of vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and onions. Toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with your favorite herbs and spices, and grill until tender. This vibrant and smoky medley adds a great dash of flavour and nutrition to your barbecue spread.
Fresh fruit skewers
Don’t forget to include a touch of sweetness to your healthy BBQ food with fresh fruit skewers. Thread chunks of fruits like watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, and grapes onto skewers for a delightful and refreshing treat. The natural sweetness of the fruits pairs perfectly with the smoky flavours from the grill.
MINDFUL EATING TIPS WHEN ENJOYING BBQ FOOD
If you’re trying to stay on track of your goals over summer, it’s important to practice mindful eating. Not too sure what that is? Check out our quick guide to Intuitive and mindful eating. Then come back to the below tips to help you make mindful choices the next time you’re enjoying some delicious BBQ food.
Be mindful of portion sizes and try to avoid overeating. Fill your plate with a balanced combination of lean protein, grilled vegetables, and healthy side dishes. Listen to your body’s cues and stop eating when you feel satisfied, rather than overly full.
Listen to hunger cues
Pay attention to your body’s hunger cues. Take a moment to assess your hunger level before reaching for seconds. Often, a break between servings allows you to determine if you are genuinely still hungry or simply eating out of habit.
Drink plenty of water throughout your barbecue gathering. If you want to, avoid sugary beverages or alcoholic drinks. Water not only quenches your thirst but also helps you feel more satisfied and aids in digestion. Find out the secret to drinking more water and continue this healthy habit throughout the summer and beyond.
HEALTHY BBQ FOOD: RECIPE IDEAS FOR DESSERT
No barbecue is complete without a fresh and tasty dessert. Here are some options to satisfy your sweet tooth without going over the top on sugar and calories:
Frozen yogurt bark
For the FroYo lovers out there, this frozen yogurt bark recipe is incredibly easy to personalise with your favourite fruits or sprinkled treats (give it a try with our Whey Protein Balls). The best thing about this recipe? It can be done in a matter of minutes. Simply throw it in the freezer, wait for an hour or so and enjoy while cooling off in the sun.
Protein strawberry and vanilla popsicles
Another great way to cool off after cooking up a feast on the grill, these protein strawberry and vanilla popsicles are made using our Juicy Whey Isolate (or Juicy Vegan Protein). Just blend all the ingredients, pour into moulds and pop them in the freezer.
FAQS about healthy BBQ food
All your frequently asked questions, answered.
Is grilling healthier than other cooking methods?
Yes, grilling is generally considered a healthier cooking method compared to frying or deep-frying because it requires less oil and allows excess fat to drip away from the food.
Are there any vegetarian protein options for a healthy BBQ?
Absolutely! Veggie burgers, grilled tofu, and vegetable skewers loaded with vegetables are excellent vegetarian protein options for your healthy BBQ food.
How can I make my own low-sugar BBQ sauce?
You can make your own low-sugar BBQ sauce by combining ingredients like tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, spices, and a natural sweetener like stevia or honey.
What is the recommended internal temperature for grilled meats?
The recommended internal temperature varies depending on the type of meat. For example, chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74°C, while beef steaks can be cooked to a range of temperatures depending on whether you like them rare (45-50°C), medium (140-150°C), or well done (160-170°C).
A feast of healthy BBQ food is not only delicious but also a great opportunity to enjoy nutritious meals with family and friends. By choosing lean protein options, incorporating nutrient-rich vegetables, exploring healthier sauce alternatives, mastering proper grilling techniques, and enjoying mindful eating practices, you can create a memorable barbecue spread that promotes both taste and well-being.
So, fire up that grill, gather your loved ones, and enjoy some next-level BBQ food while getting after your unique health & fitness goals.