10 Tips for a healthy BBQ
There's a scorching weekend coming in Ireland, and long may it last! Everyone loves the outside living and enjoying easy dinners on the BBQ. BBQ may be delicious, but it's not the most cholesterol-friendly food! The common BBQ meal consists of lots of cholesterol filled foods such as beef ribs, sausages, rashers, coleslaw and potato salad (covered in mayonnaise). And here in Ireland, opting out of a social occasion because your watching your cholesterol is simply not an option!
Here are simple tips to help you watch your cholesterol and still have fun! These delicious but healthy options will give you all the taste and experience, with no cholesterol!
#1 Choose Lean Meat
Replace ribs, steak and pork with lean meats like turkey, chicken fillets and fish which contain a whole less fat and cholesterol. Choose chicken with no skin. Fish and lean meats have significantly less saturated fat than steak and processed pork. Fish is surprisingly nice grilled on a BBQ and there are even handy little fish grill trays available in most supermarkets these days, so it's as easy to cook fish as flipping a burger. Generally, fish are not high in saturated fat and contain omega- 3 fatty acid that keep your triglyceride levels healthy. But If you must eat a steak- why not try the red meat in bite-sized pieces with vegetables on a kebab stick.
#2 Think fresh marinades, not processed sauces
Meats are usually rubbed in sauces before grilling so try to be mindful of the fat and calorie content. Marinating your meats a few hours before the BBQ with herbs, spices and citrus juices is a good idea.
#3 Watch the carbs
If you go for the baked potato option, choose light mayonnaise, light Philadelphia, or light laughing cow cheese which contain significantly less fat and calories than other cheeses. Or choose a spicy salsa as a topping. This goes for salads also - the nutritional value of a salad disappears when they’re loaded in salad dressings and mayonnaise. Be mindful of what you are adding to your salads and try creating the flavour with herbs, spices, nuts and seeds rather than shop bought dressing.
#4 Fruity drinks and Light Beer
Can a few drinks really affect your cholesterol? Well...... it depends. Although alcohol is filtered through your liver, the same place where cholesterol is made, its effect on your heart health really depends on how often and how much you drink. I know it can be tempting to sit back with a cold cocktail or beer while the sun is out, but keep it moderate. Drink water in between your alcoholic beverages, and have one drink per hour (not fifteen).
We're fans of dry white wine spritzers (so you’re still drinking but not as much). Spritzers are less calorific and dilute the wine into a refreshing summer drink. Use one-part wine to two-part soda of your choices such as diet coke, diet sprite or tonic water. If you want to get fancy add a drop of bitters like lime, lemon or oranges.
A few ‘cold ones’ are always present at BBQ’s, and while Beer doesn’t contain cholesterol, it does contain carbohydrates and alcohol, and these substances can cause a rise in your triglyceride levels. If you need a cold one - opt for light beer. The winner here is Bud light coming in with 110 calories with Becks and Heineken next in line.
#5 Add lots of Fruit
Fruit is essential If you are watching your cholesterol. Fruit contains no saturated fat and lots of fruits such as blueberries and raspberries contain lots of antioxidants, essential for good heart health. Summer fruits and summer salads are delicious and refreshing. A nice platter with oranges, berries slices of melon and especially watermelon- always go down as a treat. Grilled pineapple or peaches from the BBQ are caramelised and gorgeous, when sprinkled with lemon juice and fresh mint - and can be added to burgers and salads or even skewers.
#6 Go Meatless
There is a wide consensus among the medical and health professionals that vegetarian diets are associated with low cholesterol levels as they are generally low in saturated fat. There are thousands of studies to back this up, and plenty of meat-free options like tofu in every supermarket that can easily be grilled on the BBQ. You can add baked beans as well (full of protein and anti-oxidants)
Filling your plate up with servings of grilled vegetables is always a smart idea which compliment your cholesterol lowering diet. They are low in calories and contain many proven ingredients which keep your LDL cholesterol in check! Corn on the cob is the most classic example. But other tasty BBQ veggies include Asparagus, courgette, portobello mushrooms, Bell peppers and onions. There is not much prepping involved as BBQ vegetables are chopped thick for better surface area and to avoid pieces falling through the crate. For example, cut the onions in quarters rather than slices. Veggies can be cooked directly on the grill or put in tinfoil with salt, pepper, herbs and some lemon juice.
#7 Replace the burger bun
With all this colour and flavour on your plate, who needs a big old bun?! Save some carbs by ditching it. Replace the bun with Big lettuce wrap. Ice burg lettuce is the best for this. Or use a half a bun. If you are not concerned with carbohydrates opt for a wholemeal bundie.
#8 Homemade sides and salads
Salad at a BBQ seems like the perfect cholesterol friendly option- but adding the wrong toppings and dressings to your greens can destroy the nutritional value. Shop bought salads are usually filled with problematic fats, fried foods, fatty meats. Therefore, we recommend you make your own. You can control how much fat and trans-fat are added. Add good fats that increase your 'HDL' levels (good cholesterol) such as avocado, beans, nuts and seeds which can be added to salads. It is easy to make your own homemade salsas and guacamole. The more 'HDL' good cholesterol you have the lower your 'LDL' bad cholesterol will get. Often it is not adequate to get HDL from food alone. Thankfully our supplement Cholesterol Essentials increases your HDL cholesterol to the recommended level (60mg/dl). In addition, it is also a guaranteed Irish product.
#9 Desert for a cholesterol-lowering diet
Desserts are always the hardest part of any healthy gathering – it is nearly customary to indulge in cookies, cake and pie. Ice cream contains high levels of cholesterol. However, we have discovered a healthier solution and the products can be bought in Supervalu, Tesco and many other places. Breyers ice cream is a magical ice cream with only 320 calories per tub and half the fat of normal ice cream. It is available in all sorts of flavours such as cookies and cream, raspberry fudge, mint and so on. Oppo ice cream is another option which is just as delicious. Pair this ice cream with low calorie Fibre one brownies or Fibre one salted caramel squares (also located in Supervalu, Tesco etc). To add even more to this delicious combination - One Cal Hartleys Jelly is available in already made pots or you could make it yourself and you have yourself a revolutionary, cholesterol and heart healthy dessert without the guilt.
#10 One day doesn’t ruin you but get back on track tomorrow.
Do the best you can to make healthier choices. Just try to be conscientious and don’t blindly indulge in anything that is placed in front of you. Another tip is, if you are invited to a BBQ you could look like the good Samaritan by bringing your own dish you prepared yourself to share. While secretly knowing its super healthy – your heart will thank you for that too! Tips for enjoying a summer BBQ on a cholesterol-lowering diet.