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Summer wouldn’t be the same without the much-loved BBQ being fired up at the weekend. There’s something so appealing about eating outdoors and a BBQ is the natural answer to feeding the family out in the sun, as it’s so accessible and easy to do. Many people think that this way of cooking can be quite unhealthy, with smoky, fatty meat cooked to a crisp, but by following a few simple tips you can create a BBQ that is not only healthy for you, but delicious too.

Eat Lean

Lean meat and poultry is included in the World’s Healthiest Foods, along with vegetarian diets. This is because lean meats have health benefits to people that have been proven by research. They also contain essential nutrients that can be missing in the average U.S diet. Vitamin B12 is present in meat, particularly in lean cuts of beef, with zinc and iron being the main nutrients. Cuts that are not lean contain saturated fat, and so it is worth trimming off the fat from your cuts of meat before you pop them on the BBQ, or alternatively buy lean cuts from the supermarket.


Lean meats are also thought to lower cholesterol levels just as effectively as lean fish, when around two thirds of your daily protein comes from lean beef or poultry. Lean meat can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, which are two factors that can contribute to heart disease. So, moderate amounts of lean meat in your diet are a good thing: great news for BBQ lovers.

Which Fat?

The oil you use on your BBQ is an important factor when thinking about how to create your healthy meal al fresco. Extra virgin olive oil is considered a best pick for baking and stir frying with its high percentage of monounsaturated fat. For searing and grilling at high temperatures, try oils like almond, hazelnut, sunflower and avocado oil. Like virgin olive oil, these are high in monounsaturated fat (the good fat). Almond oil is the best as it contains 65 per cent of monounsaturated fat and 28 per cent of polyunsaturated fat. Avocado oil makes a refreshing alternative with is sweet aroma. When choosing sunflower oil, go for the one that has a high oleic acid content, as Cleveland Clinic claim this is a monounsaturated fatty acid.

Oils can be added to marinades to give your food extra taste and if you choose the oils that are heart healthy, you will be well on the way to creating that perfect BBQ. Flaxseed oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acid. Wheat germ has omega 6 fatty acids, meaning that both oils are good for your heart.

Seasoning

We all know that too much salt is bad for us, but how do we get our BBQ food tasting great without it? BBQ sauces from the bottle often contain ingredients that are less than ideal for creating a healthy meal, and their salt content tends to be high. So what is the alternative? Do it the good old fashioned home made way.

To avoid the sodium and salt of processed sauces, mix up your own. The beauty of doing this is that you control the ingredients so you know exactly what’s going into your sauce. Traditional BBQ sauces want a bit of ketchup or canned tomatoes, some sugar, vinegar, molasses of Worcestershire sauce and spices. You can try beer or mustard too. Simply taste as you add ingredients to make sure you are not over seasoning. Make enough for one or two tablespoons per person and you’re ready to serve up your own home made delicious recipe.

Recipes for home-made sauces include Blueberry Bourbon BBQ sauce, which contains antioxidants. The ingredients for this sauce include canola oil, a red onion, garlic, jalapenos, half a cup of bourbon, 2 cups of blueberries, ketchup, cider vinegar and brown sugar. Molasses can also be added. Simply heat the ingredients in a saucepan and once they are cooked, simmer for 20 minutes.

Myths about Healthy Eating

The key to healthy eating is moderation. We know that too much salt and fatty red meats are bad for us, but there are a number of myths out there that are simply not true, such as the one that carbohydrates make us fat. According to Licensed Prescriptions, Dr Jean Harvey-Berino of the University of Vermont claims that it’s just the quantity of carbs that are eaten that is the problem, not the carbs themselves. Carbohydrates give us energy and are rich in nutrients, just like the nutrients found in lean red meat and poultry. Another myth is the one that says if we eat at night it makes us fat. Calories actually play the same role regardless of the time of day they are consumed, which is good news for BBQ enthusiasts who like to entertain in the evening and serve up tasty chicken wings when the sun’s gone down.

By sticking to a few simple tips such as trimming meat, using a healthier oil and replacing salt laden sauces with delicious home made ones, you can enjoy your BBQ all summer long. Serving your dishes with piles of healthy, nutrient-packed salads will add extra vitamins and minerals to your meal and make your BBQs even more healthy!

Article submitted by: Lisa Philips
Flickr image by gibsonsgolfer