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The Healthy Kiwi BBQ Guide

written by Daisy Dagg February 4, 2018

– recently featured in Health 2000 Magazine

Summertime brings blissful outdoor experiences and relaxing social occasions with family and friends. So its time to start thinking about the most glorious three-lettered acronym in food: BBQ.

Our Kiwi summer is well and truly here and with these hot and longer days upon us its time to clean the BBQ, dust off the BBQ tools and start getting some scrumptious summer-inspired recipes ready.

With obesity rates on the ever-increasing incline, it is hugely important for us to continue to watch what we eat, especially over the summer months where our calories tend to increase anyway due to certain drinking habits.

So how do we healthy BBQ? Is it possible? Of course it is!  Listed below are 5 healthy guidelines to prepare us for our favourite summer food activity – the kiwi BBQ.

Food flavour does not have to be fatty.

There are so many healthier alternatives to flavour food these days that do not have to increase your belt size. You can use herbs, spices, dry rubs and low-calorie marinades to enhance the flavour of your meat.

My staple go-to healthy fresh food flavourings are: lime, lemon, chilli (fresh, powder or flakes), fresh garlic, smoked paprika, Italian parsley, rosemary, sage, spring onion, Worchester sauce, soy sauce, olive oil, coconut oil, vinegar, organic maple syrup, honey, salt and pepper.

By using these healthy alternatives to flavouring your meat or vegetables you can continue to indulge on juicy ribs, steaks and other BBQ cuisine that continue to tickle your taste buds.

Create healthy side dishes

Salads, salads, salads! They don’t have to be your typical green salad either. You can make healthy summer pasta salads, grated vegetable salads, roast vegetable salads, quinoa salads, risoni salads, rice salads etc. etc. etc. By making homemade salads to go with the meat content of your BBQ you are creating a healthy, nutritious meal for your friends and family.

Here is my go-to Summer Salad:

Big risoni & chorizo salad
This amazing recipe is great for feeding large groups of people, and the bonus is that
it is fairly healthy too. When I was asked to cook for 35 Crusaders I immediately
thought of this salad, as it goes for miles! It is great for Christmas lunches and family
barbecues and tastes superb.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes • Cooking Time: 15 minutes • Serves 10+

500g packet risoni pasta (or orzo)
a little olive oil
1 small red onion, sliced
250g sundried tomatoes
60g black pitted olives
1 cup chopped spinach
1 cup Italian parsley leaves
400g chorizo sticks (about 10)
salt and pepper
100g feta

½ cup balsamic vinegar
juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Put the risoni plus a dash of olive oil into a pot of boiling water, ensuring the pasta is completely covered by the water, and cook for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid the pasta sticking to the bottom of the pot. When cooked, drain and run warm water through it and set aside.

Slice the red onion and finely chop the sundried tomatoes, olives, spinach and parsley and place in a large mixing bowl.

Heat the chorizo on medium heat in a non-stick pot for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before cutting them up in pieces at slight angles. Add to the mixing bowl along with the drained risoni pasta. Mix together and add salt and pepper to taste.

For the dressing, in a small bowl mix together the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add dressing to the salad and toss to combine.

Place the salad on a big platter and, using your hands, crumble the feta over the top.  Can be served warm or cold.
Use lean cuts of meat and avoid processed meat.

Sorry all you vegetarians out there, but BBQs are essentially non-existent without some form of meat. Whatever meat you chose be sure to purchase the leanest variety possible. Whether it be red med or poultry make sure you trim any excess fat off before marinating and cooking and remove the skin from chicken. This will aid in eliminating any unnecessary calorie intake and maximize your consumption of lean protein.

Try to avoid any processed meats including sausages, ham, bacon etc. Homemade patties are super easy to whip up also and this way you know exactly what you are putting in them.

Grill them veggies

Vegetables are often ignored when it comes to BBQ season but can provide a great healthy alternative. Eggplant, zucchini, and asparagus offer high levels of vital nutrients and can be caramelized on the BBQ grill as a healthy substitute for sides of fries or potatoes. Corn on the cob is another great example of a tasty summer vegetable option and can be found at most veggies stores for dirt cheap in season. You can flavour all the above with a low-calorie marinade or with different herbs and spices.

Avoid bottled sauces

I know Kiwis love their tomato sauce but good ole t-sauce along with most bottles sauces are extremely high in sugar. These should be substituted for a healthier alternative like a salsa or homemade low-sugar chutney. Although Mayonnaise is one of the most loved condiments out there, is extremely high in fat, making it a calorie dense food.

Here is my favourite, yet so simple healthy replacement for mayo recipe:

Coconut Yoghurt & Chilli Mayo
¼ cup plain coconut yoghurt
¼ of a lemons juice, squeezed
¼ tsp chilli powder
Pinch of Salt

Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl and mix through the salad.

The typical kiwi BBQ perfectly encapsulates summer and sunshine but poor food choices can lead to a higher calorie intake leaving us totally wanting to avoid even stepping into a bikini or budgie smugglers. Enjoy yourself this summer without gaining unwanted weight by following the Healthy BBQ guidelines above and serving healthy options to your whanau and friends.

Happy Summer NZ.
Daisy Dagg

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