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Tips for Eating Healthy Around the Braai

17 September 2019
Tips for Eating Healthy Around the Braai -  healthy braai eating

Braais aren’t exactly known for their low fat, heart-healthy options, but with a bit of pre-planning, you can still enjoy a fabulous feast while taking it easy on your waistline. Here are our top tips for eating healthy around the braai. 

Eat something beforehand

Our first tip is to eat something small but satisfying before the braai. This will help curb your appetite and minimise the urge to indulge in all those snacks while sitting around the fire.  

Add colourful fruit and veggies

When last did you notice the colour of your food at a braai? We’re betting it’s probably varying shades of brown. Adding colourful fruit and veggies to your plate will make your food look better, and it’s also an easy way to ensure that your meal includes nutrient-dense foods. Remember to pick fresh, seasonal fruit and veg because they’re likely to have the highest concentration of nutrients. Here’s a comprehensive list of colourful foods to add to your plate.

Choose healthier alternatives

The key to enjoying a healthy braai is to make better choices. From biltong and boerewors to braaibroodjies and beer, there are some foods we can’t imagine not having at a braai. Thankfully, there are a wide range of healthier options that taste just as great too.

Top picks for braai snacks:

  • Raw, unsalted nuts
  • Game or lean biltong
  • Lightly salted popcorn
  • Spicy baked chickpeas
  • Homemade kale chips or store-bought beetroot and butternut chips
  • Freshly sliced veggie sticks with hummus, guacamole or cottage cheese

Healthier options for braai meats:

  • Fresh fish such as cob, salmon or tuna
  • Leaner cuts of meat such as fillet or lean beef
  • Leaner proteins such as pork, ostrich, skinless chicken or game meat

Try to steer clear of meats that are already marinated or seasoned, and rather buy unseasoned meats which you can season yourself using fresh herbs, salt and pepper. You could even add some herbs to the coals while braaiing – this will infuse your meat with incredible flavour. And, if marinade is an absolute must, try these two healthy homemade marinade recipes.

For chicken:

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Recipe credit:

For red meat:

  • 2 tbsp natural tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 dash of tabasco
  • 1 dash of balsamic vinegar

Recipe credit:

One way to cut down on your meat intake is to prepare kebabs. Adding other ingredients such as onions, mushrooms and bell peppers will make a small amount of meat go far. Just remember to soak your House of York skewer sticks in water for half an hour beforehand.

Of course, you could also choose to forego meat altogether. Take a look at these scrumptious vegetarian braai recipes that are guaranteed to go down well.

Best bets for braai sides:

Your choice of side dishes is equally as important as the meat. As a general rule of thumb, try to fill at least half of your plate with healthy sides such as salads or braai-baked vegetables. Here are some of our favourite braai sides:

Coleslaw and potato salad are two firm favourites around the braai, so if it’s hard to part with these altogether, rather make them with half mayonnaise and half plain yoghurt for a healthier option. We also know that everyone loves a good braaibroodjie. Here, we recommend using wholegrain bread and going easy on ingredients such as butter and chutney. These delicious aubergine braaibroodjies are another great option if you’re okay with skipping the bread.  

Avoid high kilojoule drinks

The number of kilojoules in your favourite beverage might just surprise you… Take a look at this article by BusinessTech which shares a list of kilojoules found in some of South Africa’s most popular drinks – beers, ciders and shooters are amongst the worst offenders. As far as possible, try to avoid these drinks and rather opt for water infused with fruit and herbs instead. Some delicious ideas include lemon, orange, strawberries, cucumber, mint or lavender.

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