BBQs are often regarded as an occasional “treat”, an excuse to indulge once in a while. But true enthusiasts know that this isn’t all that they’re for…
If you regularly cook on a BBQ you’ll probably know by now that it’s not just for burgers in summer, it’s a way of life.
And the best thing to do to make sure you can keep it a way of life, is to incorporate healthy choices into your barbecued meals.
So, how do you have a healthy BBQ? Read on to find out…
The Quest for Healthier Delights
Healthy grilling is not just a trend, it’s all about learning more when it comes to foods, ingredients and making the right choices. And don’t worry, it’s still entirely possible to enjoy a whole host of flavours.
Picture this: succulent skewers of grilled vegetables and juicy lean cuts of meat, all cooked to perfection on the grill. By opting for lean proteins and loading up on colourful veggies, you’ll barely notice a difference.
Let’s start with the star of the show: the protein. While traditional barbecues often feature fatty meats, the realm of healthy grilling introduces us to an array of lean alternatives.
Skinless chicken breasts, turkey burgers, and fish fillets can take centre stage, offering lower fat content without compromising on taste. These proteins not only cook faster but also absorb marinades and rubs more effectively, resulting in a burst of flavour with every bite.
For dishes that use these lean proteins, head over to our recipe page. You can choose to filter by ingredient, so whether you fancy seafood or poultry, you’re guaranteed to find some healthy meal inspiration.
The Case for Fatty Foods
Although focusing on lean proteins keeps a healthy grill simple, embracing the notion that fatty foods can still be part of a health-conscious diet can lead to a surprising revelation.
While it’s common knowledge that excessive consumption of saturated fats can have adverse effects, there are healthier sources of dietary fats that can actually benefit our well-being.
Take fatty fish, for instance—rich in omega-3 fatty acids, they promote heart health, reduce inflammation, and support brain function. Beyond fish, even beef can find a place in a balanced diet when approached thoughtfully.
Lean cuts of beef provide essential nutrients like iron and zinc, crucial for energy and immune function. Moreover, the rise of keto and meat-based diets has demonstrated that for some individuals, focusing on healthy fats and protein while minimising carbohydrates can result in weight loss, improved metabolic markers, and enhanced mental clarity.
It’s a paradigm shift that challenges conventional thinking, proving that not all fats are created equal, and that informed choices can pave the way to a more inclusive and holistic approach to nutrition.
Quality Ingredient Sourcing
In order to create healthier barbecue masterpieces, the quality of ingredients becomes paramount. Sourcing from local farms, butchers and markets (if possible) not only supports the community but also guarantees the freshest, most flavourful produce and meats.
Wherever you shop, even if it is a supermarket, make sure to inspect the back of the box or packaging for the ingredients. Look for products that have a high percentage of meat, whether that’s beef burgers or chicken. You can then add your own extra ingredients while cooking, giving you more control.
Aim for meat that says something like 85 – 90% chicken breast or even 100%. If it is 100%, it may not list ingredients on the packaging at all. Many supermarket chains sell “100%” beef burgers, though most of these are actually 99% with the remaining 1% accounting for added salt and pepper, which is still fine.
It’s surprising, when you start really looking into ingredients, how small the percentage of meat can be in certain meat products. It just goes to show how much added other stuff there can be. Even when the percentage is high, make sure you look at what else is in your meat, there may be things like added sugar, and whilst this isn’t too bad in small doses, you might still want to avoid it.
Definitely make sure to inspect those ingredient listings in future if you don’t already, it could be your first step towards better healthy eating habits in general.
Certain shops also sell grass fed or free range products, so perhaps opt for these if they’re not too out of your budget. Most cows in the UK are grass fed anyway, at least during the summer, but special labelled products could mean the animals are raised exclusively on grass, rather than given substitutes in times like winter.
Make sure you choose the right sauces, marinades, rubs, and oils too. Extra virgin olive oil is often considered the healthiest of its kind as it’s the least processed. Look for products with organic, pure ingredients, free of unnecessary additives or you could even use good ingredients to try making a rub or sauce yourself.
The Sustainable Bonus
Quality ingredient sourcing usually leads to another crucial aspect: sustainability. By choosing responsibly raised meats and ethically grown produce, we contribute to a healthier planet.
Supporting sustainable agriculture practices reduces the carbon footprint associated with food production, ensuring that future generations can experience the joy of grilling too.
How to Cook Healthier Ingredients
Cooking healthier food on a BBQ differs from traditional cooking methods in several ways, and knowing the right techniques can make a significant difference.
When grilling leaner cuts of meat or poultry with reduced fat content, it’s crucial to prevent them from drying out. To do this, use a digital thermometer to monitor the internal temperature and avoid overcooking. Basting with low-fat marinades or using a grilling spray can help maintain moisture.
When grilling vegetables, coat them lightly with olive oil and season with herbs and spices for added flavour. Consider investing in a grill basket or skewers to prevent smaller pieces from falling through the grates.
To reduce harmful charring, cook over medium heat rather than high flames, and flip the food frequently.
BBQ The Healthy Way with Outback
We’re always updating our recipes list on our site and on social media, so keep your eyes on Outback for ways to get more out of your barbecue.