Summer is here and all of us are looking forward to our favourite summer braais. Whether we watch sport, series or just get together around the pool on the lazy weekend afternoons, the "braai" is one of the most popular ways we as South Africans spend our time together.
When it comes to what we are planning to eat, most of us stop at the shop to pick up the charcoal, meat, bread rolls and some chips to snack on.
But for people who prefer to eat healthily, this menu may raise some alarming thoughts:
It has a high carbohydrate content and large amounts of saturated fats.
Should I bring my own food?
How will this meal impact on my effort to control my weight?
The best approach is to set a healthy example when you invite your friends over to your home. You may find that over time the quality of the braais in your circle of friends will improve.
To create a healthy and nutritious braai, here are some of the things you should pay attention to:
1. Plan ahead
Keep on track of your weight loss or health goals by keeping a calendar of your upcoming social events. Plan ahead by making sure there are healthy choices available or offer to bring your own dish to share.
2. Shop appropriately
Shop for seasonal vegetables and lean protein sources. Replace sugary desserts with seasonal fresh fruit.
3. Create some colour and crunch
Include salads and vegetables to your meal. This will help you eat smaller portions of starch and protein. It will also lower the energy, fat and carbohydrate value of the meal without you feeling hungry afterwards.
Salads and vegetables provide our bodies with valuable fibre and a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. These nutrients are important for supporting essential metabolic processes, such as liver detoxification and optimal blood sugar and cholesterol control.
4. Adding fibre
In addition to vegetables, choosing high fibre, unprocessed wholegrain, such as corn on the cob, heavy seed/health breads or lentil and barley salads, will increase the fibre and nutrient content of the meal significantly.
An adequate fibre intake is essential to ensuring good gastrointestinal health. This helps support our immune system and combats inflammation that can contribute to developing diabetes type 2 and heart disease.
5. Choose lean proteins
Choose a meal with a leaner protein source to lower the total fat, saturated fat and energy content of the meal. Examples include lean beef fillets, ostrich, fish fillets wrapped in foil, vegetable patties or chicken (skin removed afterwards).
Selecting one type of meat (versus three types of meat) also helps reduce the saturated fat content of the meal significantly.
6. Be mindful of the extras
Snacks and drinks can add a significant amount of carbohydrates, fat and kilojoules to your meal. Choose a lower fat and kilojoule snack, and don't refill the snack bowls too often.
The amount we drink is often a function of the time we spend at the event. Choose a light beer and alternate alcoholic drinks with sugar-free, alcohol-free drinks. A Rock Shandy, for example, is a great thirst quencher on a hot summer's day.
7. Add some flavour
Limit sprinkling salt on the food after cooking and use a low-salt alternative, such as Himalayan salt, instead. Select a variety of condiments to serve with the meal: light salad dressings, olive oil, lemon juice, Atjar, chutney, tomato sauce, horseradish and light mayonnaise.