Who doesn’t love a barbecue? Relaxing, indulgent and so much variety; it is a summer staple in many UK households. However, as wonderful as barbecues are, they come with two big issues: safety- you are more at risk of undercooking food with potentially disastrous consequences; and over-indulgence- with meat aplenty, lashings of sauces and a couple of drinks, it is easy for your calories to get out of control.
In this blog, we take a look at what you can do to optimise your barbie enjoyment by NOT poisoning yourself or your guests and NOT overeating.
Avoiding Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is caused by eating food that is contaminated with certain bacteria such as campylobacter, E.coli or salmonella. Sometimes food poisoning is mild and can be dealt with at home, but it can be fatal, particularly to more vulnerable people (those with other conditions, the elderly or the very young). According to the Food Standards Agency, up to 5.5 million British people get food poisoning each year. Warm ambient temperatures, hot grills, food sitting out in the sun and (maybe) a tipsy chef are not the recipe for ideal food safety. Here are some quick tips to keep it safe:
- Think about when you are shopping – don’t buy meat, ice cream or dairy if your shopping is likely to be sitting in a warm car afterwards; take a cool bag to store perishables and take them straight home.
- Make sure that hands are washed before and after all food prep, particularly if you are handling raw meat.
- Have separate utensils for raw and cooked food; discard or wash food raw??? containers as soon as they have been emptied, to avoid confusion.
- Keep raw fish and meat separate from fresh vegetables and salad.
- Don’t wash your meat. Washing meat causes germs from the raw food to splash around your kitchen.
- Unless your food specifies to cook it from frozen, defrost food thoroughly in the fridge, preferably overnight.
- Give it time – a charcoal barbecue can take about half an hour to heat up. If you start cooking when there is a flame, you will burn your food on the outside, but it won’t cook on the inside. Wait until the flame has died down completely, and the charcoals are grey and glowing red.
- Check the middle – other than steak, you want your meat to be cooked through – no pink. For chicken on the bone, you may prefer to start it off in the oven for twenty minutes before giving it twenty minutes on the barbecue.
- That lovely marinade that you made? Don’t be tempted to pour it over the cooked meat – it is full of bacteria. You can drizzle it over the meat while it is still cooking, or just throw it away.
- Keep all food chilled until you need it and store leftovers in the fridge.
- When laying the table, cover everything until it is needed to prevent contamination.
If you are on a weight loss programme, a barbecue doesn’t have to fill you with anxiety. You may associate having a barbecue with having one of everything from the barbie as well as lashings of potato salad, coleslaw, a burger and a hot dog topped off with mayo, tomato sauce and maybe a splash of barbecue sauce for good measure. Barbecues can, in fact, be the perfect, low-calorie, high-protein meal. Use these top tips to cut the calories and enjoy a delicious meal in the sunshine:
- Choose your protein carefully. Choose lean meat and fish such as prawns, salmon, low fat sausages, good quality burgers or chicken.
- Ditch the rolls. You don’t really need a hot dog roll AND a burger one; choose one and enjoy it!
- Switch fat-laden potato salad for 4-5 new potatoes sprinkled with rock salt.
- Make your own coleslaw and use a mixture of half low-fat mayonnaise and half fat free quark or Greek yoghurt instead of full fat mayo. Spice it up with some thinly sliced gherkins and a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard.
- Fill half of your plate with salad before you load on the protein and carbs.
- Try and avoid oily salad dressings for fat-free balsamic glaze.
- Get the veg on! Make kebabs with half as much meat, but lots of lovely veg – chunks of onion, pepper, tomato, mushroom and courgette – fat free, healthy and delicious. Whole giant mushrooms are great on the barbecue, too; just whack them on and give them the occasional turn!
- Switch high-sugar drinks for sugar-free ones, or soda water and cordial.
- Enjoy! Don’t feel guilty about having a good time; take control and enjoy every mouthful.
If you are struggling to lose weight and you have a BMI of over 30, or your BMI is between 28 and 30 and you suffer from risk factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure, weight loss pills could help you on your weight loss journey if taken in conjunction with reduced calories and increased activity. To find out online pharmacy, get in touch.
Readmore A day in the life of a GP during lockdown