At home our barbecue has been used more this year thanks to the good weather and of course, there have been a few special family occasions which have given us the opportunity to entertain our families and friends - the barbecue was dusted down and the heat turned up!
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors and to become the master of your own barbecue. Make salads more lean, particularly potato salads and coleslaw that are high in calorie laden mayonnaise, use reduced fat mayonnaise if you must or try using red wine vinegar and cider vinegar, which not only gives the salad a nice tang but also makes it nice and light. Use plenty of vegetables when cooking on the barbecue too, think Portobello mushrooms, grilled peppers, and even courgette ribbons, see my recipe for a lovely fresh barbecued salmon with summer salad. A nice salad to accompany any meat is my couscous salad, we use a tricolour grain to add a nice bit of colour to the salad, you could squeeze some pomegranate seeds over the salad to add some extra flavour and colour to the dish.
One of the best ways of adding flavour to meats is to marinate the meat, use store marinades if you are under time constraints but try to use marinades that aren’t too high in sugar, not only is it unwanted calories but they can flare up easily on the barbecue - it really is a case of just checking the labels. For our Steak with Rosemary and Garlic I have marinaded the steak in some oil with fresh garlic and rosemary, just remove any excess oil before placing on the grill - the flavour is great, it’s keeping it simple and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. Also try to trim any excess fat from meats before placing onto the barbecue, rely on healthy marinades or even just lemon or lime juice for flavour. My avocado and raspberry salad is a salad that works really well barbecued meat, serve it with handfuls of fresh herbs such as mint and coriander.
I have used a garlic crouton salad to accompany my Grilled Lamb Cutlets, these are grilled rather than fried and are great for adding texture and flavour to a salad. Garlic croutons lend your salad both flavour and crunch. Add cheese for extra indulgence, cut them into cool shapes for the kids or tear them roughly to add rustic charm. Don’t be limited to using iceberg lettuce, try baby spinach leaves, watercress and rocket for some wonderful greens to accompany your meats, just drizzle lightly with a light dressing of lemon or lime juice and a little olive oil.
For dessert why not try pineapple skewers, you can drizzle with some honey and cinnamon as I have or just simply cook the pineapple wedges on the barbecue and drizzle with a little crème fraiche or greek yogurt with some vanilla seeds added, delicious and refreshing. A great way of encouraging children to eat more fruit is to freeze them in ice-pop moulds, either in orange or apple juice – or even pureed and added to yogurts then frozen.
When it comes to food and drink I believe that everything taken in moderation is fine, and variety is the spice of life!