Summer is here… Time for a BBQ!
A BBQ / barbecue can a be a great choice for safe GD food, but there are still some sneaky foods that you may want to steer clear of and it can be easy to overload your plate with carbs without thinking. This post will help you find better foods for a BBQ and warn you of some of the BBQ things to avoid or limit.
Meat & Poultry BBQ hints, tips and ideas…
High in protein and natural fat, meat is a great GD safe food (just be wary that it isn’t coated in sweet BBQ or chilli sauces which is high in sugar!)
Steaks, chops, loins all make for great choices with simple seasoning. Use salt and freshly ground pepper, butter, garlic, chilli, lemon and herbs for extra flavour. Try beef, pork, lamb or any exotic meats, it’s all high protein! Kebabs can be a great choice if they are high meat content and not coated in sweet sticky sauces.
Aim for high meat content burgers which haven’t been bulked with cereals. Try local butchers or good quality, high meat content beef burgers from supermarkets (typically the Finest, or Best top range contains much higher meat content).
Make your own burgers using beef mince seasoning and herbs. Avoid adding breadcrumbs as you don’t need the additional carbs. You could add cheese to middle to create ‘Juicy Lucy’ burgers too!
If eating a burger in a wholemeal bread roll make sure this is the only carb on the plate, or use a bread alternative such as halloumi, lettuce, a sliced beefsteak tomato or a large flat mushroom to serve your burger in.
Sausages vary in meat content. Cheaper and lower meat content sausages contain more bulking agents which are usually cereals meaning they turn a meat product that you think would be good on a GD diet, into a higher carb product.
Look for sausages that have high meat content, over 90% meat content is a good guide to use and look for ones which have no added sugars in the ingredients.
Most butchers and supermarkets sell sausages that will be suitable.
Here are some of our favourites…
Chicken portions on the BBQ can be great, but be careful they are not coated in sweet high carb sauces like BBQ or sweet chilli.
If they’re not coated in sweet sauces, you can enjoy the crispy chicken skin, or you can remove the skin from coated chicken to make it more tolerable.
Try out some of these recipes for inspiration:
If you want a spicy chicken recipe, then try out this one for Jalapeño-Lime Chicken Wings from Stupid Easy Paleo. Or for something different why not try this recipe from Three beans on a string; Garlicky lemon cuban chicken
Chicken and turkey also makes great BBQ kebabs. Skewer diced chicken breast with vegetables, brush with a little olive oil and season. Remember to soak wooden skewers overnight before using them so that they don’t burn on the BBQ!
From prawns to salmon steaks, fillets and whole fish, most fish will barbecue well and they are a great source of protein and natural fat. One thing to note is that fish protein does not seem to pair carbs as well as meat protein, so bear this in mind, keeping the carb amount small and add lots of additional fat or another source of protein to help the pairing.
You can skewer prawns or sardines to make kebabs, or wrap fillets in tin foil parcels with seasoning. Fish steaks can be cooked directly on the BBQ very quickly.
Skewered sardines with tartare dressing – Here’s a great recipe from BBC Goodfood, packed with protein and omega-3 fish oils which work great on the barbecue and are fab on a GD diet!
Mackerel with sizzled garlic, ginger & tomatoes – Another fish packed with lots of heart healthy Omega-3 fish oils and lots of protein, mackerel. This recipe is a great recipe to try on the BBQ with lots of Chinese flavours.
Roasted chilli prawns – Prawns skewered on the BBQ are a beautiful fresh dish. Brushed with butter and lemon juice they can taste amazing, but if you prefer a little kick to your meals, this recipe for roasted chilli prawns may be better for you and contains no added sugar.
Vegetarian and Vegan BBQ ideas
Of course, vegetable kebabs are a great idea on the BBQ, but you also need to think where you can add some protein and natural fats to the meal so that it helps pair any carbs (not forgetting that vegetables contain carbs in varying amounts).
Tofu, Quorn, Tempeh and Seitan, olives, avocado, nuts, seeds and nut butters are all good vegan choices which could be incorporated into vegan burgers or sausages , and of course, eggs and cheeses are good choices for vegetarians.
There has a been a huge increase in vegan food alternatives available to purchase in shops over this past year. The main thing to bear in mind is whether these meat alternatives have enough protein in them and if not, you need to think of ways to increase the protein and fats on the plate, especially if attempting to eat a vegan vegetable based burger in a bread roll.
Beans and pulses are good sources of protein but can be harder to tolerate and don’t make such good pairing tools, due to them being higher in carbs. However, if you count them as part of your carb for the meal and go easy on any other carbs then they can be good plant sources of protein.
Vegetarian BBQ inspiration…
Melting-middle aubergine parcels dressed with pesto sauce – This recipe from Barney Desmazery, shared on BBC Goodfood, these oozing parcels of cheese are a great idea for getting some protein & natural fats onto your vegetarian BBQ plate.
Grilled Eggs in Portobello Mushrooms – Yes I’ve done it, I’ve managed to find a way of having eggs cooked on the barbecue!These eggs barbecued in portobello mushrooms would be ideal for the GD diet. The recipe can be found here.
Courgette & halloumi skewers – Halloumi is lovely on the BBQ and you could add any vegetables you fancy with this recipe, but the dressing may make for a something a little different. If you don’t like or can’t eat halloumi then tofu works well too.
Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas with Goat Cheese and Pesto – I love quesadillas on the BBQ and this recipe from Domesticate Me looks like a fab vegetarian recipe that would work well on a GD diet. Don’t be shy on the cheese though! Use wholemeal seeded, or BFree tortillas for a slower release carb in this recipe and serve with a big helping of sour cream and guacamole to increase the protein and natural fats.
Pepper & feta parcels – This recipe shared by Olive Magazine is great if you are cooking meat on the same BBQ as your vegetarian food as these can be wrapped in tin foil parcels to stop any meat contaminating them. Use plenty of feta and add other cheeses too if you want to increase the protein and fat even more!
Peppers with mozzarella, chilli and pine nuts – Another pepper recipe from Olive Magazine, but for those who like a bit of heat, this one may be a better recipe.
Griddled vegetables with melting aubergines – A vegan dish with plenty of extra fats from olive oil, seeds and kalamata olives, check out the recipe at BBC Good Food.
Vegan satay with peanut sauce – A vegan kebab made with tofu and a peanut satay dipping sauce. Just replace the sugar in this recipe with a sweetener such as xylitol or erythritol instead. You can find the recipe at Cilantro & Citronella.
Coconut Crusted Tempeh Skewers – Now this recipe is great, but does come with a recipe for a mango salsa, which most will find far too high in sugars to tolerate (mango spiked my blood glucose levels within minutes of eating it when I ate a small piece of my sons mango when preparing it one day without thinking – I was shaking and heart was racing so quickly, so please avoid this super sweet fruit), therefore I would serve these with a normal salsa instead. Check out this coconut crusted tempeh recipe, it is number 3 on this article shared by the Food Network.
Chickpea burgers in roasted portobello ‘buns’ – A great vegan burger recipe which is higher in protein but uses a mushroom as the burger bun means the carbs from the chickpeas are tolerated better. You can find the recipe at Sainsbury’s Magazine.
BBQ Side Dishes
Use your side dishes to help pair your meal where possible and fill you up with green salad and vegetables. Here’s a few ideas to keep your BBQ flavoursome and interesting…
Sesame grilled asparagus rafts – Asparagus on the BBQ is delicious and can be cooked so quickly, but this recipe with the added sesame seeds means you are increasing the protein and fat content which helps pair your meal more.
Avocado seven layer salad bowl – A layered salad bowl packed with extra protein and natural fats. Swap the ingredients in this recipe for full fat alternatives and this makes for a super GD friendly side dish that will help pair your meal.
Greek Salad – Here’s Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Greek salad. With the feta cheese, olives and extra virgin olive oil this helps pair your meal.
Tangy Cabbage Slaw (Coleslaw) – Full fat creamy coleslaw is a nice addition to a BBQ but if you fancy making your own which is a bit different to just chopped veggies and mayonnaise, try this Tangy cabbage slaw which has no added sugar and make sure you use full fat pasteurised mayonnaise.
Tomato, basil and mozzarella kebabs – Slices or pearls of mozzarella, basil and tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper bring a beautiful colour to the table which are sweet, tasty and paired well too.
Classic devilled eggs – Boiled eggs are a great addition to a GD BBQ, but why not have devilled eggs for a change? Here’s a recipe for classic devilled eggs.
Green salad with avocado – Fill up on lots of green salad. Salad leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals and are a good source of fibre for your body too. This recipe has avocado and olive oil added, both high in good fats which will help pair any carbs you eat.
Beware… Pick your BBQ carbs carefully!
BBQs can hide carbs in a few different places, from sauces to salads, bread rolls, potatoes and corn. Think about which one carb you are going to add to your plate and avoid double carbing (adding more than one main carbohydrate per meal). Go for the carbs that you know you personally tolerate better.
Bread rolls, especially white rolls are high in refined carbohydrates and will spike blood sugar levels quickly. Depending on your tolerance to bread, you may want to avoid bread rolls completely.
If you tolerate wholemeal and wholegrain, seeded breads OK then a wholemeal roll may be tolerated well, especially when paired with a burger or sausages etc. If not, try replacing the traditional bread roll with lettuce, halloumi cheese, a large portobello mushroom or a sliced beefsteak tomato.
Sweetcorn (corn on the cob)
Sweetcorn is naturally sweeter than many other vegetables and can cause some ladies blood sugar levels to spike. Others are able to tolerate sweetcorn OK, but it’s something that should be eaten with caution, in small amounts and ideally paired with real butter and other sources of protein and fat to help make it more tolerable. If you love barbequed sweetcorn, then this Grilled Mexican Corn with Chili Lime Mayo recipe from a couple cooks may be the carb you want on your plate!
I’ve mentioned it a lot through this post, but this is because many ladies make the mistake of eating them without thinking about how much sugar they contain.
Sauces like ketchup, BBQ sauce and sweet chilli can have high amounts of sugar in them. Carbs turn into sugar in the bloodstream and so if looking at nutritional labels, take note of how many carbs per serving you would be eating.
Even lower sugar versions still contain high amounts of carbs, but there are some better no added sugar versions now becoming more widely available such as this no added sugar & salt Heinz ketchup which has only 5.7g carbs per 100g (please note, this is the NO ADDED SUGAR tomato ketchup with the turquoise label, not the 50% reduced sugar & salt one with a light blue label)
You could also try using fresh tomatoes to replace tomato ketchup (although some do not tolerate tomatoes particularly well either) and if you need a sauce then a better alternative is full fat mayonnaise. If hot and spicy is your preference then Frank’s hot sauce is a good choice for you!
If you want a low carb BBQ sauce for dipping, drizzling or for a marinade, then try out my BBQ Sauce recipe.
Baking a potato increases the GI value, meaning it converts to glucose in the bloodstream much faster. Depending on your tolerance to potatoes, a small barbequed baked potato paired well with butter and sour cream or cheese may be an option for you.
New potatoes have a much lower GI, but for some they may still spike blood glucose levels. 3-4 egg sized new potatoes are a rough guide to portion serving size for new potatoes, but some will find they can tolerate more. If you struggle with potatoes then you may find even one spikes your levels too high.
New potatoes coated in butter or potato salad in creamy full fat mayonnaise will help pair the potatoes to be more tolerable. Here is a great recipe shared on BBC Good Food for Next Level Potato Salad!
Pasta, rice and couscous salad
These type of salads could be your main carb for the meal, but once again it will depend on your tolerance to these carbs.
Whole wheat (brown) pasta is slightly better than white. Basmati and wholegrain (brown) rice is better than other varieties, but all raise blood sugar levels. Mayonnaise, pesto and olive oil dressed salads will help with pairing.
Around 3 tbsp of cooked pasta/rice/couscous is a good suggested serving size, but some will be able to eat much more if they tolerate these carbs better and pair well.
Pesto Pasta Salad by Cookie and Kate, Moroccan Spiced CousCous by Erren’s Kitchen, Mediterranean Brown Rice Salad by Ahead of Thyme
Water is always the best thing to drink, but if you fancy something different then there are lots of suitable cold drinks that you could have. Take a look at the drinks page for ideas.
Suitable fruit juices, mocktails and cold drinks can sometimes be challenging to find as they may contain sugar, artificial sweeteners or alcohol.
One of the biggest problems with non alcoholic drinks is that they tend to be very high in carbs and drinking liquid sugar is going to cause many problems for anyone with any type of insulin resistance.
Watch out for non alcoholic wines, spritzers, beers, ciders, cocktails and fruit juices. Unfortunately, you will need to pay very close attention to labels when it comes to selecting your drinks. Ideally you want to select drinks which have zero carbs per 100ml.
This cheat version of Pimms without the main ingredient makes for a nice refreshing drink at your summer BBQ. It may sound odd, but give it a go!
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 litres diet lemonade, lots of ice, mint, slices of orange, lemon, limes, cucumber and strawberries
Desserts and Sweet Treats
If you want to have a dessert or something sweet following your main BBQ meal, then it is best go very low carb with the main meal to allow some extra carbs in the sweet, or wait to test your post meal blood glucose levels before having the dessert and then test your levels again 1 hour afterwards (just to see how well you have coped). The more you eat at one time, the more food your body needs to process and so it is often best to split up a meal this way, rather than putting too much pressure onto our body to produce and use enough insulin.
Sweet Treat BBQ Ideas…
There are lots more sweet treat recipes within the GD UK Membership Section too!