Barbecuing is a year-round passion here in Cyprus, but now that the summer is well and truly upon us, heading into the garden and firing up the coals is an even more prevalent way of doing lunch or dinner.
But is barbecuing good for your health, and how can you make sure your summer barbecue is as nutritious as it is delicious? Read on for our four expert tips on making your summer barbecue better for your health.
- Include more vegetables on your menu: We all know that eating plenty of antioxidant rich vegetables is good for our health. But did you know that vegetables are also delicious on the grill and make a healthy alternative to meat. Tasty on their own, or accompanying meat and fish, vegetables retain much of their nutritional value when grilled. Fresh vegetables such as aubergines, mushrooms, courgettes, onions, carrots, bell peppers and corn are all great options for a healthy summer barbecue and don’t forget to make a healthy side salad to brighten up your plate.
PRinOs tip: Want to know how to grill the perfect vegetables? Read our blog post here.
- Choose lean meats over fatty cuts or processed foods: It’s important to choose your meat wisely when planning a barbecue. And while its easy to lean towards the processed or packaged produce – think burgers, sausages and hot dogs – these meats are loaded with preservatives called nitrates and nitrites, that turn into carcinogens when cooked. So, which meats are best on the barbecue while still being healthy option? Look for the lean cuts instead of fatty pieces. Or opt for healthier white meats that are lower in saturated fat such as chicken breast (skinless chicken is the healthiest option) and fish.
PRinOs tip: Cut out the fat where possible, so it doesn’t drip onto your coals and produce cancer causing smoke that will then accumulate on your meat as it cooks.
- Make sure to marinade: Why is marinating meat better for your health? Rubbing your meat in a marinade before grilling helps to cut down the formation of those pesky, cancer causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) – and as an added benefit, it also helps the meat to stay moist while cooking and adds delicious flavour. An effective marinade should include an oil to add and retain moisture, an acid such as lemon or vinegar to help make the meat nice and tender, and your favourite herbs and spices for taste. Rubbing your meat with a dry mix of ingredients such as garlic, turmeric, chilli or rosemary before you barbecue will also reduce HCAs.
PRinOs tip: Instead of shop bought marinates which often contain high quantities of salt, try making your own homemade marinate from fresh ingredients from Prinos stores.
- Don’t overcook your food: Its easy to get distracted while barbecuing. You’re outside, with friends and family, having cold drinks and catching up, and before you know it, you’ve burnt your meat. And while many people like their meat a little bit charred, the problem is, burnt food is extremely bad for your health. Why? Because cooking meat at high heat causes the proteins to form HCAs, which, when consumed, cause cell destruction that can be carcinogenic. The longer you cook the meat, the higher the chances of it damaging your health.
PRinOs tip: Try cutting your meat into smaller pieces to shorten the cooking time and keep things healthy.
Prinos is ready to supply your summer barbecue with fresh, high-quality meat from our butchery, as well as delicious summer vegetables and some exciting new vegan, plant-based burgers for a meat free option.
Find your nearest Prinos shop in Nicosia and Larnaca.