The Crunch Factor

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

I’m sure like me you are loving the heat and you know what they say…. If you can’t stand the heat. Get out of the kitchen
And Barbecue!
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden or a little outdoor space then it’s ideal time for a barbecue. It’s time to get out the charcoals and get smoking those veggie kebabs.

Vegetarian barbecues take a bit more imagination than your bog-standard burger ones. It can be a bit of a challenge avoiding burnt veggie burgers or worse a soggy veggie sausage. Barbecues are an ideal opportunity to experiment with making a whole host of delicious salads that provide us with numerous essential vitamins and minerals, including carotenoids and Vitamin C as well as giving your meals that extra crunch factor.

Mmmm Delicious.

Here’s one of my favourites – Barbecued mixed veg skewers

These are really easy – Just follow these four easy steps and Enjoy:

  1. Chop up a choice of the following: red/green peppers, onions, mushrooms, courgettes, sweet potatoes, aubergines
  2. Carefully spear them onto metal skewers
  3. You can add a glaze or marinade if you want to make them tangy or spicy
  4. Place them on the bbq and rotate at regular intervals until gently charred (not burnt)
  5. Eat with a lovely, crunchy salad and Enjoy!

For the marinade:

  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
  • Optional – add a small piece of ginger chopped up finely to spice things up.

Another favourite of mine is halloumi cheese. Cheese can be a bit high in salt and saturated fat so it’s good not to eat too much of it but cut up into small slices makes a very tasty addition to a veggie barbecue. My personal favourite is haloumi with red pepper skewers.

Another great way to eat this cheese is zingy haloumi cheese salad

If you do fancy a meat free burger there are plenty to choose from major supermarkets.  I usually cheat and cook them in the oven to avoid any chance of burning them.

The crunch factor starring the salads…

It’s good to have a few to try so here are my favourites:.

Green leafy rocket, Satsuma, sesame seeds and pine nut salad

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Get a large bowl and tear the rocket leaves and place them in the bowl
  2. Carefully peel and separate 2 or 3 satsumas into segments
  3. Dry roast the sesame seeds and pine nuts until they are golden brown and looking a little charred
  4. Add seeds and pine nuts to the bowl
  5. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon of olive oil

Cherry tomato, red onion, radish and cucumber salad with a squeeze of lemon juice

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Halve the cherry tomatoes, chop up the red onion, cucumber and radish
  2. Place in large bowl
  3. Squeeze a little fresh lemon over the salad vegetables
  4. Or if you don’t like lemon, use balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette dressing instead

Nutty butternut squash and blue cheese salad

Here’s how to make it:

  1. Slice up half of a large butternut squash and place on a baking tray.
  2. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or barbecue for  10-15 minutes, careful to not burn the skin.
  3. Once cooked, chop into small cubes and place into large bowl
  4. Grate about 25g (small slice) of blue cheese
  5. Dry roast nuts of choice – I like almonds, cashews or pistachios
  6. Add nuts to the bowl
  7. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar

Other bbq accompaniments that are both healthy and tasty

  • Potato salad – with boiled new potatoes, spring onions, low fat yoghurt, very small amount of mayonnaise and mustard for that extra tang
  • Couscous with fresh mint, cucumber and peas
  • Rice salad with dried fruits and grated carrot

Nutrition tips:

You’ll notice that I’ve tried not to overdo the salad dressing as this can really rack up the calories especially if it is an oil-based dressing. In many cases, I’ve suggested a squeeze of lemon juice or tangy balsamic vinegar as this can give your salads that extra pizzaz without the calories.

If you really can’t do without the relishes and sauces, then try and find the lower fat and lower salt versions where possible and don’t add great big dollops as they can pile on the calories and drown out all the lovely natural flavours of your food.

Don’t forget the carbs. Couscous, potatoes, rice and wholemeal bread are all good energy boosters to any bbq.

A lovely drink to go with a BBQ is my Strawberry Shlurp.

This is essentially a milkshake and very simple to make, here’s what you do:

Take one punnet of strawberries – add a little water and gently stew in a saucepan over a low heat for about 10 minute

Remove from the pan and set aside to cool

Once cooled pour strawberry mixture into a blender, add 250/300ml milk, 1 tsp plain yoghurt and 1 tsp honey

Whizz it up in hte blender. Pour out into tall glasses and serve with lots of ice. You can be extra creative if you like and drape the glass with fruit.

Don’t forget your straw and go shlurp away! Serves 2-4 glasses

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