5 healthy BBQ recipes to fuel your summer picnics
I fancy myself as somewhat of a grill king, like any other man out there – only, I’m better than them too.
I work closely with a company who happen to be the biggest and main supplier of wild, game and free-range meats in the UK – if you buy exotics like buffalo, elk or similar from anyone in the UK, you can wager it was handled and sourced by them first.
So, what I’ll do for those adventurous ones amongst you, is bracket the potential swaps you could do for more exciting meats and why, with each one of my BBQ recipes.
But vegetarians do not despair, because I happen to love vegetables on the grill as well – I’ll share with you a few tips and tricks to make your veggies simply amazing.
Now, no BBQ is complete without starters and sides – so I’ve included a couple of these, to save you reaching for the store bought stuff, giving you more control over your eating, everything on this list is minimal fuss and can really be done by a beginner, but mastered by an expert.
Now unless you are slow cooking on the BBQ, you are going to have a good chance to get some hot-searing flames during the earlier portion of cooking, once the main flames have died down and your hand can hover over the coals for a short few seconds, that’s about cooking temperature with the lid down.
Also check out these Healthy burger recipes
Remember, not everything has to go right onto the bars of the BBQ, with the lid down, it works much like an oven, with the smoke giving a lovely taste to anything within.
With a metal bowl (I actually use a dog bowl I bought in a pet store) under a closed lid you can cook and smoke sauces, vegetables and more at the same time as anything else is cooking on the bars.
Fish is always going to be the health food of choice at a BBQ – but it can be tricky to prepare. White fish tends to be the leanest with the highest protein content, but has the issue of tearing apart and sticking to the bars unless you oil it up – adding unwanted fats that aren’t as heat stable.
A good source of omega oils, fish like mackerel are popular on the BBQ but many find them fiddly, so here is my go-to no hassle method for feeding friends quality fish.
Talapia or Mahi mahi (kezie) works great for this dish – preferable the ticker, harder yet still mild in flavour fillets. Here is one for wow-ing your guests, bbq on a ceder plank – you can pick these up for about 5pounds, not everything has to go direct on the grill, remember to soak your plank before grilling so it doesn’t burn and rub your Fish side with (assuming around 500g of white fish to serve 3), the juice of 1 whole lime and ½ a fist sized orange.
1 crushed garlic clove minced with 1 green pepper and 1 tbs of olive oil, sprinkle over a teaspoon of cumin and salt and 1 diced shallot, leave the white-fish in this mix for around 45minits before placing the plank and the white-fish onto the grill and covering with the grill lid to cook and smoke. (Ideally you can use a food processor to make up a large amount of this marinate to taste and pour it over fish)
You will end up with much more succulent and less flaky falling apart fish than if you cook directly on the grill, with less damage done to the meat from the burning and searing you get with one-the wires cooking.
A 140g fillet, with the dressing is going to set you back around 170kcal, 30grams of protein and 20grams of carbohydrate – the fat content will be minimal but vary depending on the fish you chose.
Lean, Beef-Bacon Burgers in lettuce wraps
This one’s to be done when you’re feeding friends, everyone thinks burgers are stodgy and bacon is going to be unhealthy, but if you buy quality stuff, then it really doesn’t have to be. Also if you are grilling, you really don’t need to buy the leanest stuff going because a lot of fat renders out of the burgers during grilling.
I cook burgers towards the end of the BBQ when the coals are lowest on heat, they take on a reddish-deep tinge as they smoke with the lid down and really impress.
So remember, this is a higher calorie dish, but carries a good whack of protein, you can always substitute or remove certain ingredients or serve with homemade relishes, and burgers don’t always need a bun, try making them smaller than the over-sized portions you’d usually be forced to buy and warpping in lettuce leaves.
Also , mozzarella cheese, is around 100g a block and you’ll get about 8 burgers from a block in terms of garnishing- so we can add 30kcal extra and 1.5g protein and 3g more fat per burger – 32kcals, if you want to throw that in too.
For 12 burgers
1.5kg beef mince and 350g streaky bacon – instead of beef mince, I’ve had amazing success with Kezie’s Elk mince to make Elk burgers or use any type of minced game meat, for something really lean, just be warned that the leaner the meat, the smaller the burger and slower it needs to be cooked to stop it going hard or falling apart on the grill – a burger/veg net is ideal for grilling and moving these types of foods about on the grill to stop them falling apart!
Beef: 276g Protein, 297g fat, Carb – negligible
Bacon: 140g Fat, 52g Protein, 3-4g Carb
Creates around 10-12 Burgers weighing 150g each – so we can assume, when evenly mixed: (12 burgers)
36g fat per burger before cooking – 324kcal
27g protein per burger 109kcal
Carbs – Negligible once divided. – So one burger, is around 434kcal Before cooking, expect to lose about 12grams in weight during cooking so around 108kcals lost assuming this is rendered fat.
During the cooking process we lose a lot of the fat – so we’ve created a deficit there already on one meal without worrying about macro-tracking when you actually come to make it – but we’re assuming raw values as it’s IMPOSSIBLE without us having some sort of laboratory, to work out how much is lost.
So your bacon burger – is pretty hearty – but it needs a side, fruit, tomato, cucumber homemade salsa with onion is an option and easy to keep rammed into the fridge – this is a bit of a low carb meal, so fleshing your BBQ out with veggie sides when cooking this is ideal!
Slow-roasted lamb, mint and rosemary
Grilled veggie slices
2 medium sliced courgettes (cut length-ways, around ¼” thick
1 soft skinned squash (such as butternut or pumpkin) cut as the courgette
2 peppers, cut into flat slices
1 red onion sliced into discs about 1/8” thick
1 garlic clove
200grams goats cheese (crumbled)
200g mozerella, torn
3tbs olive oil
Pepper, salt, paprika to taste
So here’s what we do, slice up the courgette, squash, onion and pepper and brush them all with 2tbs oil and your chosen seasoning. Peel and de-seed your tomatos and crush the garlic cloves, in a bowl or pestle and mortar mash the garlic, tomato and remaining olive oil
Put each of the slices onto the grill to brown, then remove, stack and put the cheese between slices, then wrap them in foil, tightly compress and throw back into low coals for 3-8mins. This will create what most would commonly look at as a sort of baked tortilla, but using solely vegetables, which are far more tasty and nutritious than their floury alternative.
Your main calorie bump from these will come from the cheese you decide to use and the amount of olive-oil added, but on the whole, these are very low calorie, nutrient and fibre rich little packages.
Be careful not to burn the slices and experiment with foods like aubergine, very thinly sliced squash varieties and, if you are a meat eater, there is no reason why you can sneak in some very thinly cut chicken into them – just think “healthy grilled cheese sandwich” when you make these!
Pesto Brussels Sprouts – Grilled
I’m well known for my green veg recipes that win over adults and kids alike. When you steam veg , roast veg or fry veg it takes on a wildly different flavour depending on the approach, sprouts are one of those, that can be bitter and soft, or crunchy, nutty and fragrant, here is an amazing recipe crammed with great quality oils from the dressing, pine nuts and herbs mixed in with it.
Take as many sprouts as you care to eat and a good handful of basil.
About 120g of pine nuts, 2 garlic cloves, 2tbs of grated parmesan and around 4tbs of olive oil (and salt/pepper to taste)
You need to slap a pan on the bbq and roast the pine-nuts and finely chop the rest of the ingredients and mix into the oil, once the nuts are golden, crush them under paper and a rollig pin or a pestle and mix into the rest of the ingredients.
Half all your sprouts down the centre and toss in with the rest of the oil and tasty ingredients. Allowing it to get between the tightly packed leaves and enter the sprouts., allow these to marinate for around 2-4 hours before cooking time.
When it comes to grilling time, a veg basket or fine mesh (like a sieve) is an ideal tool, simple toss them in and put them over a lower-heat area, just enough to sizzle and crackly them without burning, the occasional shake and re-pouring of oil will keep them fine and moist without drying them, when they are browned all over and keep a bit of firmness, they shouldn’t be easy to cut with a knife. they are ready to enjoy.
I warn you, this recipe has converted many a sprout hater, your sprout bills will sky rocket.
Salsa – Firstly, BBQ’s are all about the accessories, if you’ve only got a grill and some tongs, you can do great stuff, but smoking racks and chimneys are just amazing and well worth the investment for the years of gastronomic joy they bring!
For example – tomatoes, peppers chillis and garlic in smoke pouches slow roast can infuse amazing flavours into pre-salsa ingredients great grill food is all about experimenting and not being afraid to leave something smouldering for hours on end.
Mandatory BBQ side: Coleslaw
Whilst slaw isn’t cooked ON the bbq, it’s a great accompaniment for most dishes and a way to get in a whack of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and just veggies in general.
All you need to make great coleslaw without the mayo dressing that usually accompanies it is a dressing of your choice – I prefer a vinegar and oil, lemony/balsamic dressing personally, but the trick to making your slaw not taste dry in the absence of the calorific mayo, is to ensure you’ve got a shredder/grater that cuts REALLY fine.
For enough to server 3-4 people as a large portion take
2-3 large carrots, ½ a white cabbage and ¼ a red cabbage, 2 small apples (usually granny smith variety is best), a handful of raisins, 2 fat courgettes.
Using the finest grate you can, shred the carrots, I like to have the white cabbage a little thicker than the carrot, but you can do the same for the red cabbage.
Dice your apples and use a julienne peeler to peel your courgettes into fine strips.
Soak the raisins in your oil/vinegar mix for as long as possible.
When serving toss the dressing through immediately prior, don’t leave it in/over the slaw, I then like to dust with a little paprika or smoked pepper.
1 large seving of coleslaw for if you really load up on the carrot, is going to use 1 whole carrot (80-100g), 1 tbsp of oil dressing and ½ an apple (about 100g). –which yields around 44g carbs from the apple and carrots and raisins and 10g fat from the dressing and a negligible amount from the cabbage and courgette 176kcal from carbs and 90kcal from fat.