There are two bitter ironies in the culinary/social year; Christmas and party dresses, and barbeque season and bikinis. Why are we surrounded by invitations to eating and drinking festivals at the two times of the year when we want to look good in smaller amounts of clothing? Well there isn’t much we can do about it; what’s the point in being super slim and gorgeous and sat at home on your own?

If you go to a barbeque this weekend, you may eat a serving of potato salad, a grilled burger, 2 sausages in a bun, a tablespoon of Helmans Mayonnaise, a serving of Pringles (no that doesn’t mean the whole box, just a handful) a scoop of pistachios and a can of beer, you will go home with 1185 calories and 62g fat in your tummy. If you have another can of beer and a Magnum ice cream the number soars to 1600 calories (78.5g fat). Woops! You can see how it starts to add up. I don’t know about you, but I have seen people eat considerably more hot dogs and drink rather more beer than that; the average US barbeque would total 2260 calories, 126 grams of fat, and 109 grams sugar. That is more than a whole days calories at one sitting. Big woops!

However, if you ignore all of the health warnings associated with incinerating your dinner outside, the barbeque can be a much healthier affair;

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– Ignore ready prepared marinades which can contain additives and large amounts of salt and fat, and experiment with your own; use tonnes of fresh herbs, garlic, chili, olive oil, honey and lemon and lime juice; pound it in a pestle and mortar and coat everything in it, leaving the flavours to infuse.

– Swap sausages and burgers for skewers of prawns, mackerel baked in tin foil, skinless free-range chicken breasts, or lean steaks. Make vegetable and tofu kebabs with big chunks of mushroom, onion, tomatoes, courgette and pepper (fry the tofu a little first).

– Swap bowls of crisps and snacks for dips; homemade hummus or natural yoghurt mixed with finely chopped onions, cucumber, chives and salt and pepper, and serve with strips of pita, carrot, pepper, celery and cucumber sticks. Make a scrummy salsa to add to fish, meats or use as a dip by finely chopping red onion, tomatoes, coriander, garlic and fresh chili, and dress with lime juice.

– Ditch the pale and pasty burger buns and rolls for pita, tortilla wraps, (go for organic as many others contain hydrogenated fats) granary rolls, or just leave them out; there is no law saying you have to wrap everything in bread.

– Make a potato salad swapping mayo for natural yoghurt (no-one will notice if you season with salt and pepper and chop in some onion, garlic and herbs). Try my scrummy fat-burning coleslaw; cut up red cabbage, red or spring onions, chunks of apple, grated carrot, avocado, baby spinach leaves, chopped chives and mix up with low-fat natural yoghurt (I also add chopped fresh chilli and raw garlic).

– Instead of a heavy pudding make a huge fruit salad, or serve giant wedges of chilled watermelon. For the kids make ice lollies out of smoothies, or slit a banana length-ways and push in 2 squares of green and blacks dark chocolate, wrap in tin foil and bake over the coals, serve with half-fat crème fraiche.

A barbeque is the perfect social occasion on a beautiful summer day; make your outdoor meal an excuse for some seriously healthy eating! Until next time, happy scoffing.


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