Summer is the time to enjoy leisurely meals outside, and BBQing is one of our favourite ways to justify stepping out of the hot kitchen. With a little creativity and planning, barbecue favourites can be just as healthy as meals made indoors!
Give these healthier options a try at your next barbecue:
Sausages: Instead of traditional beef or pork wieners that tend to be greasy and salty, try leaner chicken or turkey sausages.
Fresh meats: Avoid the extra salt, sugar, and preservatives in pre-marinated meats or store-bought barbecue sauce – make your own marinade in only a few minutes! Just mix together a liquid base or two (lemon juice, balsamic or apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce) with some fresh or dried spices (garlic, onion, basil, parsley, pepper) and a little oil. Remember that fattier cuts of meat like marbled steak and chicken thighs tend to grill better than very lean beef or chicken breast because they stay juicy when cooked over an open flame. Don’t worry, these meats can fit into a healthy meal, too – just remember to trim any excess fat.
Tin foil: This kitchen essential makes cooking vegetables on a barbecue a snap! Simply cut up whatever you like (potatoes, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, and bell peppers all work really well) into bite-sized pieces. Get fancy with seasonings or just leave them plain and let the delicious flavours shine through. Make sure to seal the tin foil package with a folded seam and then place it on the grill with the seam side up (so the vegetables don’t fall out!).
Food on sticks: Vegetables also taste delicious with a bit of char from the grill. Get your kids involved in the food prep by asking them to assemble the skewers. Give the recipe below a whirl this weekend!
Marinated vegetable skewers
- 1 red & 1 green bell pepper, chopped into largish pieces
- 1 zucchini, cut into 1 cm thick rounds
- 10 (or so) mushrooms, whole or halved depending on their size
- 20 cherry tomatoes, whole
- 1 red onion, chopped into largish pieces
- 8-10 bamboo skewer sticks, pre-soaked in water
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ – ½ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (dried basil works, too!)
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- Soak the skewer sticks in water for at least 20 minutes – this helps to prevent the sticks from burning when placed on the barbecue.
- While the skewers are soaking, chop the vegetables – make sure that the pieces are large enough to be properly skewered so they don’t fall off.
- Mix up your marinade in a large bowl and place all of the chopped vegetables into the bowl. Let the vegetables marinate for at least half an hour (just enough time to heat the grill and have a cool drink on the patio!).
- Now comes the fun part: skewer a piece of each type of vegetable, alternating to make a nice pattern. Once the skewers are ready to go, you can cook them right away over low-medium flame on the barbecue or store them in the fridge for several hours until meal time.
About Carly Phinney
Born in Vancouver, raised in the Okanagan, and a recent transplant to the North, Carly Phinney is a Clinical Dietitian at UHNBC. Carly’s interest in food started in the kitchen with her mother - watching her mother’s talent for just “throwing something together” from whatever was in fridge. She loves that, through food and nutrition, she is able to touch people’s lives and help them to make small but sustainable changes that can greatly improve their overall quality of life. Outside of work, you can find Carly in her kitchen baking up a storm or in the mountains hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.