Everyone loves a good old Aussie barbie and, as the weather begins its approach towards summer, more and more gas bottles are likely to be sold in the coming months. But with great summer afternoons comes great temptation: barbeques are just the thing to throw your diet off-track. Here's how to keep that sizzling hot plate, and yourself, under control.
Stack up the salad and vegies
Just because you eat meat at a barbeque doesn't mean that you have to eat only meat. Make sure that there are plenty of salads and vegetables around so that you can enjoy the different flavours and textures of a healthy, balanced meal. Instead of boring lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes, throw together unusual salads with garden peas, different leaves such as spinach and maybe a tiny bit of feta or marinated grilled halloumi for flavour. Leave any dressing you make to one side, in a jug so that guests can help themselves.
Resistant starches can be good for you, too: these are found in starchy foods that have been cooked and allowed to cool, such as potatoes and rice. Make a healthier version of potato salad by substituting plain natural yoghurt for half of the mayonnaise that you would normally use. Chop up some chives and spring onions and stir in for extra vegie goodness.
Vegetables don’t have to stop at the cold salad varieties. Chop zucchini, capsicums, red onions, eggplant slices and mushrooms and thread them on to soaked wooden skewers before grilling them. A light spray of canola oil will help their flavour. Or bake potatoes in their jackets for a fibre-packed way to fill you up without too many kilojoules.
Cheat with the meat
A barbeque meal is much like any other: you only need to eat a piece of meat that is the size of your palm for proper nutrition. Although the occasional step over the mark is acceptable, there is really no need to stuff down a piece of chicken, some steak, two snags and a hamburger in one sitting. Choose what you really want to have, and eat only that. Make sure you have lean cuts of meat, and trim off any visible fat. Opt for prawn or fish options instead of meat and make sure that your meal is not burnt to cinders: charcoal may be carcinogenic.
Other barbeque tricks
Make sure that your plates are not massive and it will look like you are eating a lot more. Avoid standing next to bowls of nuts and chips, too it is easy to keep dipping your hand in absentmindedly when talking to friends and family. Try eating a burger with salad instead of with a bun.
Watch how you booze, too as well as increasing the number of kilojoules you're consuming, too much wine or beer can send you scuttling down the slippery slope of overconsumption in no time at all.