Enjoying the Summer Grill… The Guilt-Free Way


By Dr. Antonella Grima

Summer is round the corner and the smell of those fabulous summer barbecues is already in the air. Follow these practical tips to join in the summer fun in a healthy and low-calorie way.

Choose your cuts. When it comes to meat, fish or white meat such as chicken breast are the healthier options as they are lower in saturated fats and hence lower in calories. If you must have red meat, go for leaner cuts, such as fillet, as this is mainly muscle and contains less fat than other cuts.

Eyes on the marinade and sauces. These can drastically increase the calorie content of your meal. Steer clear of oils, mayonnaise and ready made sauces or gravies and instead opt for wine, herbs and lemon to marinade your meat, and vegetable-based sauces, such as hummus or bigilla.

Stick to one main plate. Nibbling on snacks and starters, such as nuts, crisps, cheese, ham and sausages before your meal may add on hundreds of extra calories to your barbecued meal. Try and have one main plate and skip nibbles and starters if you can.

Do not shy away from vegetables. Barbecued vegetables, such as aubergines, peppers or corn on the cob taste divine and usually contain less calories than their animal-derived barbecue counterparts. You may also wish to prepare a cold and crispy vegetable salad to serve as a side dish.

Eyes on that glass. The wine or beer somehow goes down easier while savouring a good grill. One drink for the ladies and two for the gents per day are more than enough. Alcohol is a source of extra calories and causes harm to your liver if consumed in excess. While on the topic of drinks, water or diet soft drinks are low-calorie alternatives to juices and sugary drinks.

When it comes to the dessert dilemma, it is always better to skip or choose a healthier option such as fruit, or opt for a small portion if you really must taste the ice cream or gateau.

Go slow on the charring! Barbecuing releases unhealthy free radicals and oxidizes the food. While a few barbecues here and there will cause minimal harm, one should refrain from having a barbecue on more than one or two days a week and try not to char food beyond the cooking point, while making sure it is well-cooked, of course. Counteract the effect of oxidation by consuming plenty of antioxidants, such as Vitamin C or E or Beta carotene during the day. Excellent sources are colourful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. Supplements are not necessary.

And finally, enjoy the company, the food and the exquisite Mediterranean climate we have been blessed with!

Article as appeared on 23rd May 2015 on eve.com.mt

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