Friday, March 1, 2013

The Ultimate South African Braai

Even though summer is almost coming to an end, there is still no excuse for a braai! In my opinion summer in South Africa is all about the braai...

A weekend is, without a doubt, incomplete if it does not involve laughter, good company and food. Lots and lots of colourful food...

This, however, does not mean that one should pile on the kilograms!

One can still enjoy a braai. A braai with healthier options, that tastes delicious but does very little harm to the waist.
While enjoying a braai one can still lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, while at the same time having more than enough energy to spend time with family and friends. In order to enjoy a healthy braai, I suggest one makes use of the following tips: 

Tip 1: Snack before the braai

Snacks will help to curve ones appetite and ensure that you do not overindulge during a braai. My tip is to eat a snack before attending a braai. This will ensure that one is less likely to make the wrong food choices. I indulge in the following healthy braai snacks when attending or hosting a braai: 
  • Homemade popcorn which is low in fat and lower in sodium than the traditional chips often served at braai's
  • Lean biltong
  • Raw, unsalted nuts
  • Vegetable crudites served with a delicious dip. For example: baby carrots, baby corn, cucumber served with hummus or low fat cottage cheese

Tip 2: Be on time 

Light the fire early! Having to wait ages for the meat to braai often leads to snacking on the wrong, high fat snacks. 

Tip 3: Include a variety of food

This tip applies not only to a braai but to all meals. Half of ones plate should always consist of vegetables or salad, a quarter of the plate may consist of starch and one quarter of meat. 

  • A great idea to ensure that vegetables are part of the braai is to serve vegetable kebabs. Make use of the following vegetables and make your own kebabs: mushrooms, peppers, baby marrows, pumpkin and brinjals. Ready made vegetable kebabs are also available from leading grocery stores. 
  • Roasted vegetables drizzled with olive oil or balsamic vinegar is always a winner. 
  • Add colour to the meal by including carrot salad, sweet potato salad, three bean salad or beetroot salad. 
  • Tired of the usual salad dressing? Lightly drizzle a tossed green salad with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. 
  • For a healthy potato salad use light mayonnaise or fat free yogurt. 
  • Pre-boil mielies until just tender, then place on the braai to add a braai flavour. 

Tip 5: For the meat lovers

Boerewors and chops are often filled with unwanted fat and cholesterol. 

Rather choose lean meats to enjoy. For example:
  • Fish – a great alternative to the usual chop
  • Fillet
  • Lean beef
  • Ostrich
  • Homemade chicken kebabs. Make use of skinless chicken breasts and season with your choice of herbs. 
Remember to remove the fat before placing the meat on the braai. One should thus cut away all visible fat. When using chicken one should remove the skin.  

Lemon juice, garlic and fresh herbs can go a long way in adding flavour to the meal. Use the above mentioned instead of oily marinades, butter or margarine. Make use of herbs and spices to replace salt (this will assist in managing ones blood pressure).

Tip 6: Healthy starch options

Instead of serving white bread rolls at the braai choose from the following options:
Low GI brown bread, seeded rolls, whole-wheat pita, sweet potato or baby potatoes, barley or couscous. 

Tip 7: Time for Dessert
  • Fruit salad or fruit kebabs will not only add colour to the festivities but will definitely ensure that you don’t feel guilty after a second bowl of dessert.
  • Drizzle the kebabs with chocolate sauce or serve with a mixture of fat free cottage cheese and vanilla essence or fat free vanilla yogurt for added flavour. 

Tip 8: Drinks
  • Alcohol is loaded with kilojoules. One must therefore go easy on the beer, ciders and alcoholic beverages. Remember to alternate every alcoholic drink with a large glass of water.
  • Men should limit the intake of alcohol to 2 units per day and women to 1 (1unit=120ml wine, 340ml beer, 25ml spirits). Always choose light beer, light wine and light ciders.
  • Serve a jug of water with strawberries, sliced lemon or mint. A cold glass of water is always delicious on a hot summers day! 

May you enjoy the warm weather, experiment with healthy braai options and spend your braai's in great company!

The Dietitian’s Life

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