Barbecues usually mean lots of indulgent nibbles, creamy salads and grilled meats, with the occasional fruit platter for good measure.
While an occasional indulgence is acceptable and somewhat encouraged, we can often get into a bad habit of over-indulging every weekend. So why not ditch that naughtiness at your next get together and set yourself up for a feast of nutritious whole foods.
Naturopath Katie Jean gives us a guide to your best healthy barbecue yet.... The winter sun is shining, birds are singing, Saturday vibes are in the air, and you’ve been given less than 24 hours notice that the in‐laws are popping in for a Sunday arvo BBQ – Time to impress! But where to start? What will I cook? Will the food‐critics like what I present? How can I be sure to cater for everyone? And what about the fussy eaters? Arghhh!
Clean eating It seems to be the latest phase, even among those we’d least expect, right? So why not go to town and transform your once greasy barbecue, into a nutritious, gourmet delight for all to savor.
Here’s why you and your visitors are going to benefit from these healthy, tasty options.
Generally our traditional summer‐time Aussie BBQ’s begin with the nibbles. Foods like a cheesy platter are often served, alongside salami, crackers, dips, and potato chips, all foods oozing with high amounts of fat, and not to mention the processing methods behind these packaged ‘foods’. We’ve all heard the age-old rule, “saturated fats are dangerous”, but allow me to explain the modern day misconceptions of dietary fats.
We need fat in our diet: A point many of us need to understand is that eating the right fats in proportion will NOT make you gain weight! Why? Every cell in the body is structured with a membrane of fat; even our brains are made up of a high percentage of fat! Fat is needed for cellular protection and enables our cells to survive and perform their roles at optimal function. Can you now see why dietary fats are so important?
Fats can be detrimental: At this point you’re probably wondering, how can one macronutrient be so important but so dangerous at the same time? Confusing hey! Let’s break it down simply; So there are many different types of fats, each plays various roles in the body.
Here’s one example; Heating some saturated fats at a high temperature can turn them into trans fat. This process is called polymerization. Trans fats can cause destruction to the body, especially within our tiny arteries. Put it this way, the consumption of trans fat can cause inflammation within our arteries. This is one of the reasons our body creates cholesterol; a necessary hormone for health, commonly given a bad stigma. Our bodies have two types of cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and high‐density lipoprotein (HDL). So basically, when arterial inflammation occurs from trans fat consumption, our body sends LDL cholesterol to the point of inflammation in the arteries to clean up and decrease this inflammatory response. Then HDL cholesterol also travels to this point, to pick up the small LDL cholesterol molecules and transport it back to the liver for detoxification of the inflammatory free radicals, and the LDL can then be used again.
Unfortunately when too much inflammation is created; or in other words, too much trans fat have been consumed over a period of time, the small LDL cholesterol molecules can get stuck within the inflammation in the arteries, causing both LDL and HDL cholesterol to be unable to complete their required jobs. This is then how strokes can become prevalent, as arterial inflammation has not been diminished, and therefore can overtime cause changes within the artery wall occur. There are exemptions to this general rule, for example coconut cream and oil. The fat in coconuts is raw saturated fat made of medium-‐chain fatty acids. These medium-chain fatty acids are easy for our body’s to digest and metabolize quickly into energy. Saturated fat found in meat and dairy products are long-‐ chain fatty acids. These long-‐chain fatty acids are higher in calories and can be harder on our body’s metabolism to digest but that doesn’t mean to cut them out completely, but instead to include lots of vegetables in your diet to encourage digestive enzymes to do their thing. After reading just one example above of how fats can negatively impact our health, I’m sure you’re more eager to now learn ways to include healthy fats into your family BBQ, to positively improve your health. Here are some simple recipes for each course I’m sure you’d love to try, alongside a guideline of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats! High amount: - Monounsaturated - Polyunsaturated Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are considered polyunsaturated fats. Omega-9 is considered a monounsaturated fat. Moderate amount: - Saturated fats - great to cook with Low amount: - Trans fats Each meal option listed below is healthily balanced in good fats, low GI, carbohydrates, and lean protein, creating a nourishing meal for your family BBQ. And don’t forget to entertain your guests with the important points on the benefits of fats in our diet! * Monitoring and decreasing inflammation * Healthy function of all cells * Balances mood and cognitive function * Hormone synthesis * Energy production * Joint lubrication * Eye health * Stable immune system, just to name a few!
Nibblies: Swap this… Barbecue snacks such as traditional crackers and biscuits are made with refined flour and usually contain trans fats. Now we have already touched on the trouble with trans fats, but what about the refined flour? Generally refined flour has been processed so much that it’s actually lost most of its original nutrients through manufacturing. Is there any point in putting something into our bodies that is not going to benefit us? Another popular treat for adults and children are chips, which are mostly deep - fried and hence particularly high in nasty fats. Something we’re all aware of is the high salt content added to these products, but surprisingly, these items can also be high in sugar! As we know salt can be ‘more-ish’, to the point where we crave more and more as we’re eating it. The flip side to this is that the more we peck on these salty foods, the more sugar we are devouring without even realising it! For this… Opt for rye crackers or vegetable crudités with a delicious homemade dip and a small slice of full fat cheese. The benefits of doing so will enrich your body with wholesome, nutritious foods, still with delicious flavours.
Homemade colourful hommus dip Fresh is best - Although fresh chickpeas will need to be soaked overnight, & fresh (unskinned) beetroot will need to be boiled until tender. Simmer 1 large chopped onion for 1 hour (add 250g dried chickpeas if fresh). Once cooked save 1cup of boiled water. Food processor: Chopped beetroot, chickpeas, and cooked onion. Add: - ½ cup tahini - 3 crushed garlic cloves - ¼ cup lemon juice - 1tbs cumin Process until smooth. Gradually pour in 1 cup of boiled water saved from onion mixture, and ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil. Spread dip over sliced carrot, celery, capsicum, cucumber, mushrooms and tomato crudités. Sweet potato wedges with minted yoghurt sauce. Slice sweet potatoes into wedges. Add sweet potatoes to hot coconut oil in an oven pan and sprinkle with herbs and spices of your choice. Serve with; Minted yoghurt dipping sauce Mix in food processor: - 200g natural full fat Greek yoghurt 2tbs chopped fresh mint - 2tbs lemon juice - Pinch of rock salt and freshly ground pepper
Salad: Swap this… Potato salad, which is high in carbohydrates but includes minimal vegetables for a ‘salad’, better off putting those calories to good use! For this… Pack out your salads with a healthy does of protein and some good quality fats in the form of nuts, seeds and oils. These ingredients contain healthy unsaturated fats including omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. Omega-3 and omega-6 are two essential fatty acids (EFA’s); this means it is necessary to intake these fats daily via the diet, as our bodies are unable to produce them, unlike omega-9. A few health benefits of EFA’s include: * Reduce inflammation * Lowers risk of heart disease * Maintains healthy cholesterol * Decreases arthritis pain * Healthy brain function - cognition and memory Quinoa lentil salad Quinoa rinsed and cooked like rice, wait until cool. Mixed with salad from the options below: Baby spinach leaves, rocket, alfalfa, green beans, snow peas, avocado, cucumber, bean shoots, shallots, capsicum, mushrooms, olives. Add lentils (freshly cooked, or canned), red onion, & handful of diced full fat feta cheese. Optional: Pine nuts, or macadamia nuts, drizzle with flaxseed oil, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice.
Mains Swap this… Fatty sausages, burnt chops and store bought chooks are all Aussie outdoor favourites. For this… Prawns are a great source of protein, and are also very low in calories! You can basically have any form of seafood on the barbie, but why not mix it up from your typical fish.
Shrimp on the Barbie Something Aussie’s are so often accused of, but don’t often actually do! Fresh prawns barbequed in coconut oil. Flavour with crushed garlic and optional chili for extra spice. Mix in a tossed leafy green salad including: Baby spinach leaves, rocket, alfalfa, green beans, snow peas, avocado, cucumber, bean shoots, shallots, capsicum, mushrooms, olives.
Sweets Swap this.... The high amount of sugar in cakes, sweet biscuits, chocolate and confectionary can lead to insulin resistance, obesity, dental cavities and hyperactivity, not to mention the candida, acne, addiction and further cravings. For this… Utilise natures sweetness with some tasty treats, still balance in carbohydrates, fats and protein. Dessert doesn’t have to be just sugar and fat, fill up on the good stuff.
Fruity-nut cottage cheese with raspberry sauce Ingredients & method: - ½ cup full fat cottage cheese - 2 handfuls of mixed blueberries, diced cantaloupe, peaches, pineapple ½ palm macadamia nuts. Mix in blender or food processor. Separately blend raspberries & drizzle over as a sauce. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
Coconut rice pudding with grilled oranges Serves four: Ingredients: - 1-cup rinsed quinoa - 400ml coconut milk - ½ tsp grated nutmeg - 1tsp stevia - Pinch of salt - Sprinkle of cinnamon - 2 sliced oranges (skin and pith removed) Method: Cover quinoa in 2-cups of water and bring to boil, leave to simmer until water has absorbed. Add quinoa, coconut milk, nutmeg, salt and stevia to a pan and cook over gentle heat until mixture begins to simmer. Simmer and stir for 5 minutes until thick and creamy. Spoon quinoa into cups lightly oiled with coconut oil and leave to cool. Grill orange slices on BBQ using foil, until lightly golden. Once quinoa is cooled, run a knife around the edge of the cup and turn out quinoa onto a serving plate. Decorate with orange slices and serve sprinkled with nutmeg and cinnamon.
Drinks Swap this… Fizzy drinks and alcohol have many health warnings. An overall category to put them into is ‘acidic’. It is important to feed our bodies with alkalizing foods. A simple way to remember it is that a balanced alkaline body has much less chance of disease than an acidic body. Acidic foods does not equal an acidic environment, for example, lemons are very alkalizing to our blood, all foods are different. For this… Fresh is best. Create your own refreshing drinks that are alkalizing, and therefore they will help your body to digest after consuming many of the above meals! Water, water, water; it’s nature’s lifeblood. Also, fresh vegetable juices are not only the perfect antidotes to a summer thirst and they also pack a powerful punch of nutrients.
Citrus water Filtered water with added freshly cut and squeezed lemon and lime
Vegetable juice Carrot, celery, cucumber, knob of ginger, beetroot, and spinach. Measurements to your taste, sweeten with an orange or pineapple
Iced tea Boil water over a variety of separate herbal teas and allow cooling with the teabag left in the mug. Serve in a large pouring jug with ice.
Katie Jean is a Qualified Naturopath passionate about health and wellness in the fitness industry. Walking the talk, Katie Jean is an IFBB Victorian Champion and endeavors to continue her success with Bikini Competitions. For more on Katie Jean: www.katiejeanhealth.com
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