Make the most of summer barbeques with these tasty diet friendly side salad recipes. Far from being a meat and beer affair, brightly coloured sides and salads can work hard to stimulate the senses and make the meal healthy yet unforgettable. So take our tips on how to make the most of your summer BBQ salad and sides experience.
Simple is best
Summer barbeques are such fun – and easy to put together – so long as you keep things simple. There’s no need to overdo the choice on mains – just go for one or two options, such as steak or lean beef hamburgers, then choose chicken, lamb or vegetable kebabs. And for the pirce de resistance, add three or four interesting yet healthy side dishes to fill out your plates and make your meal complete – without affecting your diet or weight loss plan.
If time is of the essence, or your summer barbeque is a last minute affair, choose light, tasty extras that you can toss together in a matter of minutes. It takes no time at all to put together a healthy, chunky salad or make your own diet version of potato salad that tastes far better than any fatty bought version. Just follow our easy BBQ ideas here. Don’t just rely on convenience foods as they rarely taste as good as home-made, plus they can be pricey, and you don’t have the same control over your diet with them.
Be aware that in summer food must be always be kept cool and covered. Bacteria love warm temperatures and will grow at an alarming rate, so don’t leave food or salads for the barbecue sitting in the warm sun. If you can, prepare ahead and keep things refrigerated or in an esky until you need them. Always keep food covered with a lid or cling wrap, and keep it like this until the food is served. Humans aren’t the only hungry creatures around!
Move a million miles away from traditional BBQ side salads in oily dressings, potato salads with high fat mayonnaise or rich coleslaw. With a few clever changes, you can prepare options that taste every bit as good, with far less fat, and are much more diet friendly for you (and your barbeque guests).
First off, boil some small new potatoes in lightly salted boiling water until tender for a potato salad. Whilst they are cooking, beat together equal quantities of low-fat sour cream with low-fat plain yogurt. Add a couple of tablespoons of chopped fresh chives or parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if you like. Drain and cool the potatoes. Add the dressing and stir it through, then season to taste with salt and pepper! Delicious.
Next, make a healthy, colourful salad with chunky chopped cucumber, halved cherry tomatoes, radish, chopped spring onions and chunks of red and yellow capsicum, seasoned with black pepper and tossed in lemon juice. Lovely!
For your vitamin A hit, how about a fresh carrot and toasted sesame seed salad? Just peel and coarsely grate a couple of large carrots , then toss them with 50g of raisins or sultanas and 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds mixed with 2 tsp toasted sunflower seeds. Add a few drops of white wine vinegar – and you’re there! (To toast the seeds, put them into a large saucepan and dry-fry them until they start to brown lightly. Take care that you don’t burn them!).
Why not make refreshing coleslaw that’s so much tastier than the bought versions? Just finely shred some hard white cabbage, add a grated carrot , some finely chopped red onion, a couple of sticks of sliced celery and a chopped, cored apple. Add a little finely grated lemon zest, then dress in low-fat natural yoghurt. Crispy, crunchy and so good for you!
Fancy a slice of garlic bread? Make a low-fat Italian version called ‘brushetta’. Simply rub cut cloves of garlic over the surface of slices of Italian ciabatta. Spray with olive oil both sides, then place on the barbeque for a minute each side to char-grill.
Tzatziki makes a terrific healthy topping for barbequed food. All you have to do is combine a de-seeded and finely chopped Lebanese cucumber with 2 tbs of chopped fresh mint, 150g low-fat plain yoghurt, a clove crushed garlic, 1 tbs lemon juice and salt and pepper.
Veg out with lots of barbequed fresh sweetcorn, capsicum and zucchini. Simply cut the zucchini into thick slices on the diagonal, cut the capsicum into large pieces and slice the sweetcorn in half. Grill over the coals for about 5-8 minutes until nicely char-grilled, adding sprigs of fresh thyme or rosemary for an extra flavour hit. Fabulous.
Seems like your summer barbecues will be the healthy flavour of the month!