Summer is here and many of us are heading out to our gardens to fire up the barbecue. Some of the foods traditionally cooked on barbecues, such as burgers and sausages, can be high in calories, saturated fat and salt.
However, barbecued food does not have to be unhealthy. We have some tips for enjoying a heart-healthy barbecue without compromising on taste.
These tips can also be followed when cooking in the kitchen.
Choose a healthy source of protein
Foods that are high in saturated fat, such as red meat, butter and hard cheese, can increase your risk of heart disease. You can cut down on saturated fat for your barbecue by swapping red meat, sausages and burgers for skinless chicken, fish or low-fat vegetarian meat substitutes. Alternatively, you can thread cubes of chicken or firm fish onto skewers with slices of bell pepper, courgettes, mushrooms, red onion and cherry tomatoes before grilling.
Swap white bread rolls for high-fibre alternatives
Increasing the amount of fibre in your diet can reduce your risk of heart disease. Instead of using white bread rolls for your barbecue, you could switch to wholegrain rolls or wholegrain pitta, a brown rice salad or jacket potato.
Add some colour
Include plenty of salad and vegetables to make your barbecue colourful and nutritious. Avoid using too much salad dressing on salads as this is often high in calories. Try rubbing a spicy marinade on pieces of courgette, bell pepper, onion, cauliflower florets, and mushrooms and grilling them on the barbecue.
To make the marinade, mix together 2tbsp olive oil, 1tsp harissa or chilli paste, 1tbsp lemon juice, 2tbsp tomato puree, 1tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander and ½ tsp Dijon mustard. Rub or brush the marinade onto the veg and leave it for at least 20 minutes in the fridge before putting it on the grill (you can thread the veg onto skewers before grilling if you wish).
Healthy grilled desserts
Try grilling slices of pineapple, watermelon, halved bananas, peaches, nectarines or plums for a healthy dessert. The natural sugars will caramelise, giving them a lovely sweet flavour. Serve with a spoonful of thick, creamy yoghurt and sprinkle with a handful of chopped toasted nuts, such as hazelnuts or almonds.
Heart Research UK Healthy Heart Tips, written by Dr Helen Flaherty, Head of Health Promotion at Heart Research UK