Sunday 2 June 2013

Get the barbecue on...and eat your veg?

It’s the barbecue season at long last, which means eating tonnes of beautiful chargrilled meats and topping up your vitamin D levels by sitting in the sunshine 1. But if I can make a couple of menu- and health-enhancing suggestions, I thought I’d post a couple of ideas for vegetable dishes that are great accompaniments to a barbecue, and may even steal the show.

First off, increase your vitamin C levels by chucking some corn cobs on the barbecue, straight out of the shopping bag. Let them char to a golden grown, then scoff them with a dab of butter (or chilli butter if you really want to pep them up).
Secondly, try chargrilling some of those little vitamin-bombs that are asparagus spears. Take them off when they look lightly charred, then dress with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil (this will actually help your absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A & E from the asparagus). A few shavings of Parmesan on top will set these off a treat.

Or, you could try this superb salad which I’ve adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. A gorgeous combination of sweet veg and fruit, with sharp dressing and salty cheese.  Just the thing with barbecued pork, lamb or chicken. Plenty of vitamins (A, C and E), minerals and fibre to be had with this little lot, but other health benefits include:
·         Beetroot is high in nitrite, which the body can turn into nitric oxide to help lower blood pressure 2;
·         Apples contain a variety of phytochemicals, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, all of which are strong antioxidants, as well as containing compounds which can prevent the spread of cancer cells and reduce cholesterol 3. These compounds are found in particularly high levels in the peel, which is kept ON in this recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 medium carrots
4 beetroot, boiled and peeled
1 large apple (Granny Smiths are good here)
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
40 grams of Feta cheese

Simply chop the carrots, beetroot and apple into matchsticks, then toss together. Dress with the oil and lemon juice, season, and crumble the Feta on top. Serve immediately, otherwise it will be limp, floppy and have the texture of wet hair.


One serving of this will give you:
Energy: 148 kCalories
Protein: 3g
Carbohydrates: 17g
Fat: 9g


1          Nair, R. & Maseeh, A. Vitamin D: The "sunshine" vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother 3, 118-126, doi:10.4103/0976-500X.95506 JPP-3-118 [pii] (2012).
2          Hobbs, D. A., Kaffa, N., George, T. W., Methven, L. & Lovegrove, J. A. Blood pressure-lowering effects of beetroot juice and novel beetroot-enriched bread products in normotensive male subjects. Br J Nutr 108, 2066-2074, doi:S0007114512000190 [pii] 10.1017/S0007114512000190 (2012).
3          Boyer, J. & Liu, R. H. Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutr J 3, 5, doi:10.1186/1475-2891-3-5 1475-2891-3-5 [pii] (2004).