Eating lots of meat in the summer, especially when it’s been cooked on the barbecue, often leads us to believe that we are being unhealthy. This doesn’t have to be the case though and there are plenty of reasons why you can enjoy meat without having any health hang ups. Our nutritionist, Jenni Henderson, was on hand to alleviate these worries and provide tips on barbecuing for families, which meats to choose, and how to make the most of seasonal ingredients.
What are the health benefits of eating red meat cooked on the BBQ?
Lean red meat is naturally nutrient rich. It is a source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc and B vitamins which help keep us healthy 1. Lean cuts of meat have reduced in fat over the years due to improved farming methods and butchery techniques. Try to choose fresh lean cuts over processed cuts of meat.
Is it okay to barbecue meat?
There are lots of great reasons to start barbequing this summer, not just to escape a hot kitchen! It’s a healthier way to cook than frying as when you BBQ, excess fat drips off the meat. Just make sure you don’t char or burn meat when cooking by making sure the BBQ is nice and hot but wait until the flames have died down. You can also part cook food before finishing it off on the BBQ – that way you’ll still get the distinctive BBQ flavour. Marinating your meats also makes barbeques healthier. You can make your own marinades using oils and naturally acidic ingredients, like vinegar or citrus juices, that tenderise the meat, plus adding a variety of herbs and spices will provide flavour.
Processed foods do contain more sugar and salt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a burger on the BBQ. Making your own burgers whether made from beef, lamb or pork means you can control exactly what goes into them and you can even add things like fruit and vegetables.
Remember though to vary your outdoor menu, it’s not just burgers and sausages that can be barbequed, there’s so many wonderful cuts of meat you can use. Beef, lamb and pork are very versatile meats – just ask your local butcher.
Do you have any tips for those hosting family barbeques to ensure that children are getting the nutrients that they require?
Cooking from scratch is the best way to make sure you provide healthy food for your kids. Use quality meat from your butcher to make your own burgers. Add lots of grated or finely chopped veggies too and season with herbs and spices instead of salt. Grated turnip and potatoes or apple work well in pork burgers, plus pork is the leanest of the three red meats.
Let the kids help out to encourage good eating habits and develop their cooking skills. Remember to add fresh lettuce and tomato (or any vegetables your kids like) to their burgers as well.
Meat and vegetable kebabs are a fun food for kids to make too – pick lots of colourful vegetables to ensure they are getting a good variety of vitamins. As a BBQ side, slice up lots of vegetables and fresh fruit for kids to add to their plate.
Food is more nutritious when it’s fresh, that’s why eating food in season is great. Scotland has a fantastic larder of seasonal foods, for example, Scotch Lamb PGI, strawberries and beetroot to name a few. Buying seasonal produce from Scotland not only helps support the local economy, it’s better for the environment too by keeping food miles low.
If you have space in your garden you can grow your own vegetables and potatoes to use in your cooking. This is a great way to teach kids about where food comes from and the importance of eating well.
Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb are in season just now. Corn on the cob finished on the BBQ is my favourite plus there are loads of seasonal vegetables ready in the summer time such as lettuce, peas, asparagus and garlic. As a side, cous cous mixed with seasonal veggies like radish, onions, tomatoes and carrots with homemade pesto is delicious. New potatoes are a summer staple, so a new potato salad makes a tasty side dish and provides slow releasing energy and B vitamins.
Fresh berries are sweetest in summer. Why not visit your local farm shop for some fresh strawberries, raspberries and plums. You may even be able to pick your own!
Yes, of course. Everything in moderation is key so a banana split on the BBQ for pudding is completely fine. Just remember to try and balance your meals throughout the day. Make sure you are including lots of fruit and vegetables, some carbohydrates, protein foods and a little dairy too.
What is your own personal favourite meal to serve when entertaining over the summer?
I must admit I love the variety of shapes, sizes and colours that food in a summer BBQ spread offers. So some lovely garlic and rosemary Scotch Lamb kebabs on skewers with a beetroot salad and some homemade chutney does it for me.
- NHS Choices – http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/meat.aspx