Whenever the sun shines in England and the temperatures rise slightly, the vast majority of us take to our gardens, pull out the grills and fire up a barbecue.
Supermarket shelves fill with a wide variety of tasty looking meats, all coated in lots of different flavours and styles.
The problem is that these meats can be heavily processed and full of fat, and often the coatings are so high in sugar that you can quite easily exceed your daily recommended allowance.
Instead, avoid these pre-packaged and processed barbecuing items and try out some of our recommendations below.
Go bold with your flavours
Even if you’re trying to grill healthy, you don’t need to skimp on flavour.
Marinate your meats of choice overnight in a sealed bag. If you’re a fan of sous vide cooking, your vacuum sealer will be ideal for this. Use bold flavours like Worcester sauce, chilli sauce or soy sauce, which are all low in calories yet imbue your meat with mouthwatering tastes.
Research shows that marinating also helps to reduce harmful carcinogens, and by creating your own marinade, you’ll know exactly what’s going into it.
Add molasses for sweetness, instead of sugar or honey, but remember that you don’t need to use too much. The sugars in a marinade are what cause the meat to burn when it’s on a high heat, so be careful!
Use essential oils to bring out flavour
If you want to go a step further with your marinade, use some essential oils to further bring out flavour. They’re a great, tasty alternative to using spices.
You only need to use a tiny amount to get some incredible, fresh flavours. Lemon, wild orange or basil essential oils are all fantastic additions to any chef’s cupboard. The highly concentrated plant essences are extremely natural and offer deep, intense flavours – perfect for any barbecue!
Try barbecued kale
All too often, BBQs are without a good portion of healthy vegetables. But, they don’t have to be. Veggies on a barbecue don’t need to be boring.
Kale is a great, underused addition to a BBQ. Sprinkle a handful with olive oil, add some crushed garlic and onion (caramelised with a pinch of sugar if you’re feeling a little naughty) and gently blacken.
Dash some water over it to aid with the cooking process, steaming and softening, and in no time at all, you’ll have some delicious, nutritional accompaniments to your burger, giving your guests a vital health boost!
Don’t forget that asparagus spears and sliced courgette can also be easily grilled, both tasting amazing when caramelised.
Branch out to more fish
If you haven’t already tried cooking fish on the barbecue, either straight on the grill or wrapped in tin foil, you’re missing a delicious trick.
But if salmon and tuna steaks are already part of your grilling repertoire, why not consider branching out and trying other, more nutritional fish too? Consider giving sardines a go; they’re full of highly beneficial omega 3 fatty acids, and the BBQ really brings out their smokey flavour.
You can always ask your local fishmonger for grilling recommendations too; fresh catches are always tastiest and they’ll be able to advise you exactly how to cook the fish to perfection.
Lose the skin and trim the fat
Perhaps the most simple and obvious tip, but this is the one that can really reduce the calories on a barbecue.
With chicken, the skin is where a lot of the calories and saturated fat lie. Simply remove that before marinating, score the meat and cover with your chosen sauce; you’ll still have lots of incredible tastes, but without the calories and the guilt!
Trim the fat off other meats too before grilling. You may think that you can cut if off after and that leaving the fat adds to the flavour, but you’ll inevitably miss some of the cooked fat when trimming afterwards.
Make it count in the preparation stages, and you won’t have to count those calories when you’re eating.
Instead, you can sit back, relax and enjoy a tasty, healthy barbecue.