Set your summer barbecue to sizzle with good health

Temperatures are soaring in Queensland this summer and that means barbecues will be firing.

From family dinners to relaxed entertaining with friends, the barbie is a summer tradition.

While lean red meat is a great source of protein, sausage sizzles can be loaded with fat, salt, sugar, and kilojoules, leaving barbeque lovers with barely any nutritional benefits.

But don’t despair – here are eight easy steps for hosting a healthier barbecue – and just in time for Australia Day!

One, avoid processed meats high in fat and salt. This includes sausages, salami, bacon and ham. Instead, choose lean cuts of meat, skinless chicken or kebabs. Vegetable skewers and lean mince patties are affordable options and are delicious alternatives to your standard sausages.

Two, limit consumption of burnt or charred meat. Ruining a piece of meat isn’t the only thing you should worry about when you’re cooking at high temperatures – charred meat is also linked to producing chemicals which can have cancer-causing properties.

Three, be choosy about your bread and sauce. Bread-wise, wholemeal or wholegrain is best, without butter, but you could also consider eating your burger in a lettuce wrap or as a salad to increase your daily intake of veggies. Use salt-reduced sauces with no added sugar or replace them altogether with healthier options, such as sliced onion and tomato. You could also impress your friends and family by making low-salt and no-sugar zesty citrus marinades.

Four, have a helping of healthy sides. Swap full-fat potato and pasta salads for mixed green salads dressed in herbs and a vinaigrette, or fresh lime. For a simple and delicious side dish, lightly grill vegetables such as corn on the cob, pineapple or zucchini.

Five, portion your plate. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and sticking to recommended portion sizes can improve long-health and wellbeing, reducing your risk of chronic disease. Stick to the right ratio of 50 per cent veggies, 25 per cent protein and 25 per cent carbohydrates.

Six, have plenty of cold water available and try to avoid alcohol, soft drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

Seven, stay SunSmart. Use shade provided by trees and buildings, or organise your own shade. Have minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen for guests and schedule outdoor activities outside peak UV times.

And last, but not least – the sweet finish to your summer meal shouldn’t undo the healthy swaps. Replace desserts high in kilojoules, such as pavlovas and lamingtons, with fruit kebabs. Alternatively, add vegetable sticks and low-fat dips, or unsalted and unroasted nuts, along with seasonal fruits on platters.

Like all things in life – moderation is key. We know at least one-third of all cancers can be prevented by simple lifestyle changes, including maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, being SunSmart, limiting alcohol and being active.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland and healthy living is available at

– Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift