The best recipe ideas for a low calorie BBQ
The Great British summer has arrived, and for once it’s looking quite promising, with blue skies and sunshine beckoning us outdoors.
A good time to shed those few extra pounds relatively painlessly since salads and fresh fruits are much more appealing when the weather is fine.
For those who like entertaining friends by hosting an outdoor barbecue, this need not bring an end to the diet.
Barbecuing food is a very healthy method of cooking since food needs to be only lightly coated in oil to prevent it sticking to the grill, which means less fat, and providing you choose the food with care, the calorie count can be kept quite low.
Burgers and hot dogs
If a barbecue simply wouldn’t be the same without burgers and hot dogs, then make sure you do your homework before you shop. Go for healthy whole wheat rolls and, if buying shop-bought burgers and sausages, compare the fat content displayed on the packaging.
A typical 4oz hamburger has 290 calories and 22g of fat: put it on a buttered bun and that adds a further 160 calories and 6.5g of fat. Total damage to the diet? 450 calories and 28.5g of fat per burger!
Swap the hamburger for a 4oz turkey burger on a whole wheat bun and that reduces to 270 calories and 10.5g of fat. Remember that cheese-based toppings will add significant calories and fat, whilst offering lettuce, tomato, ketchup, pickles and mustard will adds little.
Another idea is to opt for vegetarian or quorn based sausages and burgers, these are generally much lower in fat and high in protein.
Alternatives to burgers and hot dogs
If you want to really impress your guests and tempt their taste buds, why not offer a variety of foods as an alternative to burgers and hot dogs?
A simple chicken dish
The first suggestion – pineapple chicken – contains just 160 calories per serving, and only 2.2g of fat.
900g chicken breasts cut into strips
240ml pineapple juice
110g brown sugar
80ml soy sauce
Put the pineapple juice, sugar and soy sauce in a pan and heat until the ingredients are just starting to boil, then remove from heat. Put the chicken strips in a bowl, cover with the contents of the pan and marinade in the fridge for at least half an hour. Put the chicken pieces on skewers and grill for at least five minutes. The meat will be tender and will have absorbed the lovely blended flavours from the marinade.
A simple fish dish (serves 4)
This grilled salmon dish contains 193 calories per serving and 11g of fat.
Salmon fillet (about 450g)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Grated peel of one lemon
1 teaspoon soy sauce
50g grated Parmesan cheese
Place salmon, skin down, on a foil plate. Mix lemon juice, vinegar, lemon peel, garlic and soy sauce and pour over fish. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and pepper and grill for 15-20 minutes.
Accompaniments and Afters
Avoid chips (that’s cheating anyway since you would need to cook them in the oven or deep fryer) and serve instead a selection of healthy salads.
If you want to offer an unusual side-salad, why not opt for orange and red onion salad? Simply divide large oranges into segments and arrange on a plate or bowl, sprinkle with thinly sliced red onion, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. The blend of sweet, tangy and sharp will satisfy the most demanding palate.
For dessert, steer away from the high calorie gateaux, chocolate and meringue-based dishes and opt instead for fresh fruit salad, or strawberries topped with natural yoghurt (goat’s milk yoghurt is my favourite) for deliciously indulgent, but healthy, alternatives.