Summer is still very much here and you might want to make the most of it with a barbecue for family and friends. Everybody loves cooking outdoors so I thought I’d put together some simple, healthy, quick, tasty recipes for barbecues and eating outdoors. All you need do is choose your favourite, invite a few friends over, get the food and drinks in and light the coals.
There’s something quite magical about cooking over a real fire, as if somehow you’re transported back in time thousands of years to an era when you hunted, scavenged and prepared your food on a daily basis. I don’t suggest you go that far these days and I certainly wouldn’t recommend barbecues on a regular basis as the process of cooking over a flame can increase cancer-causing substances in the foods. I’d also recommend using good quality meat for your outdoor meals, as there’s plenty of evidence that the cheap stuff increases health risks in the long term too. If you buy good stuff and treat yourself occasionally (which is probably all you can do given the not so great British weather), a barbecue can be a really tasty treat. Be sure to cook your meats thoroughly to manage the risks of food poisoning.
Here are three recipes you can use to make your next barbecue a balanced one:
When imagining a kebab, most people picture some almost unidentifiable meat purchased at 3am after a night out. In truth though they can be an incredibly healthy addition to your diet. The word kebab simply means food cooked on a skewer.
Vegetarian option – load up a skewer with chunks of halloumi, red onion, courgette, cherry tomatoes and mixed peppers.
For the carnivores – either replace the halloumi or simply add cuts of lamb or beefsteak.
Balance mushroom burgers
Cook two large flat mushrooms with their stems removed (Portobello work well) and a burger of your choice. I opt for venison but you can be traditional and use beef or go vege with a bean burger. Once cooked, place the burger between the two mushrooms and add iceberg lettuce, a slice of beef tomato, smoked cheese and a little brown sauce.
Not everything you have at a barbecue needs to be cooked on the grill. Here are two healthy sides you can use to add flavour and variety to your gathering.
Falafel and couscous tabouleh
Add a little Mediterranean feel to your occasion with this Lebanese classic. These days you can easily buy falafel and houmous in lots of places so there’s no need to make your own. Simply follow this recipe and it’ll be ready in no time.
· 25g couscous per person
· 1 tablespoon of olive oil
· 1 lemon juiced
· A few bunches of parsley and coriander
· 1 or 2 spring onions
· 2 beetroot
· 2 beef tomatoes
· Half a cucumber
· Black pepper
· 1-2 packets of falafel
· Houmous (you can buy different flavours to give your guests a bit of variety)
Cook the couscous as per the packet instructions; normally it takes just a few minutes. Chop the onions, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber and herbs and mix the couscous in once cooked. In a different bowl mix the lemon juice with a little black pepper and olive oil and then add the couscous mix. Cut the falafel into smaller pieces and mix in. Serve in a bowl and place the houmous separately in a small dish.
Sweet potato wedges
I use this easy-to-prepare potato wedges recipe all of the time. They taste great served hot or cold, with a little slat and pepper or with a tzatziki dip.
Take one medium-sized sweet potato (white potatoes are in fact just as healthy so you can switch if you’d like). Cut it into wedges leaving the skin on, put in a pan and cover with water then bring to the boil.
Drain the potatoes and place back in the pan to season with sea salt, black pepper and 1 clove of grated garlic. Mix gently then, using an oil bottle with a spray nozzle, squirt a couple of sprays of oil onto a baking sheet. Place the wedges on the sheet; spray the top of them with a little more oil then pop in a hot oven and cook till brown. Mine usually take around 20 minutes in a fan-assisted oven at 180 degrees Celsius.
If you liked these recipes you may enjoy A Week in Balance, my seven-day recipe plan for every meal of the day and snack ideas too. For just £2 you can get your copy here. Half of all proceeds goes to help Genetic Alliance UK in their work supporting people with rare conditions.