Whether you’re a meat-eating barbecue traditionalist or a fan of grilled veggie burgers and fresh fruit, there’s no denying the fun of having a backyard (or beachside) barbecue. Just because you’ve been taking great care of yourself by eating well doesn’t mean you need to sit out on all the summer fun. From your favourite barbecue classics, to updated modern twists on traditional recipes, this article will leave you feeling excited to get grilling!
Perfect your planking (no core muscles required!)
If you’re a fan of homemade grilled salmon you might already be familiar with the plank method of cooking protein on the grill. Rather than applying the fish, poultry or red meat to the grill, where it has the frustrating tendency to stick, the food is cooked on a wooden plank over indirect heat without the need for added fat. Cedar and applewood planks are the most popular picks for grilling, although oak, maple, alder, and hickory planks can be used as well. Regardless of the wood you choose, it’s important that the planks are soaked in cold water for at least 30 minutes to prevent scorching or unexpected fires. For added flavour, soak planks in white wine, sake, or even apple or grape juice.
Lighten up traditional barbecue salads
Let’s face it, when it comes to backyard barbecues it’s often the side salads that are the most questionable in terms of nutrition content. Luckily, there are plenty of simple swaps which will allow you and your family to enjoy all your favourites without going overboard on your daily SmartPoints budget. Potato salad is often loaded with super-rich ingredients, namely in the form of a mayo-laden dressing. Try a German-style potato salad which features an apple cider vinegar-based salad dressing or stick with a creamy dressing, substituting up to two thirds of the mayonnaise with plain nonfat yogourt (an easy zero Points® substitute). The same yogourt substitutions can be applied to creamy macaroni salads, use Dijon mustard, hot sauce and fresh herbs to add a boost of flavour without sacrificing taste.
Use skewers for help with portion control
Metal or bamboo skewers (wooden skewers should be soaked in cold water overnight) are a fantastic way to portion out protein, fruits, and vegetables and are only limited by the ingredients you have available and your imagination. Go with classic pairings such as beef or chicken cubes, sweet peppers, red onion, and mushrooms or mix things up with shrimp, tofu, halloumi, halved stone fruit (think peaches, nectarines, and plums), pineapple, chunks of corn on the cob, small heirloom tomatoes, and any other ingredient that would taste especially delicious after a turn on the grill. If using bamboo skewers, it’s often helpful to thread two skewers through the ingredients you’re using instead of one as this will give them a flat side and prevent anything from falling into the flames as they’re being turned.
Upgrade dessert with fresh fruit
Summer is the ultimate season for local fruit, so take advantage and make it the centerpiece of the dessert course. Watermelon, pineapple, peaches, and nectarines become something extra-special when spritzed with fresh lime juice and finished with a pinch of salt, freshly cracked pepper or even dried chilies. Freshly picked berries provide a bright burst of natural sweetness when used as a simple topping for ice cream or frozen yogourt, you might even find yourself skipping the latter in favour of a big bowl of strawberries, cherries, blueberries or raspberries.