The start of our summer is usually signalled by the waft of food cooking on a barbecue in back gardens across the country. Although we may not be getting the weather this week, we have put together some tips, ideas & recipes for you below so that you are prepared if the sun decides to make another appearance!

Meat – marinate the night before (or a couple of hours will do) to give a really tasty flavour.

The best and safest way to ensure that meat is well cooked for the whole family, especially if you are pregnant, is to cook chicken and meat in the oven first and then place on the BBQ wrapped in tinfoil to finish. This will ensure that you get a nice flavour without worrying that it is under or overcooked.

Veg – Cook potatoes and other appropriate sides for example corn and the cob, peppers etc in tinfoil on the BBQ as well, to get that smokey flavour without drying them out.

Sauces & Dips – Preparing them the night before and storing in fridge over night will help save time.

Drinks – Flavour water with real fruit pieces to create colourful yet healthy and refreshing drinks.

Desserts  Make simple yet healthy desserts. Blend fresh berries, mix with a little water and freeze to create a tasty fruit sorbet.

Add a little fruit puree to natural yoghurt and freeze to create a healthy alternative to shop bought ice-cream without the hassle of making your own! Alternatively blend banana in a food processor and add in a little vanilla extract, freeze to create a deliciously healthy ice-cream alternative that can be enjoyed by everyone.

BBQ bananas are also a healthy but tasty treat that the whole family can enjoy

Serving – Keep it simple! Place food in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves. Toddlers really enjoy being able to choose their own food.

Make food fun for toddlers! Try mini pitta pockets, they can stuff these with fillings of their choice. This is a great way to get your toddler to explore different foods.

Here are some simple recipes below for you to try:

A simple marinade:

Serves: 4-6 adults (4-6 chicken breasts)
Ingredients:

-1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar, like cider or balsamic

-2 to 3 teaspoons dried herbs, like thyme, oregano, rosemary, or crumbled bay leaf

-1 to 2 tablespoons mustard, whole grain or Dijon

-2 crushed garlic cloves

-4 tbsp.  rapeseed oil  (extra-virgin olive oil is a good alternative)

Method:

Combine ingredients and store in fridge in an air tight container.

Place the chicken breasts into the marinade and ensure they are entirely coated with the marinade.

Cover with cling film ( to avoid any unwanted contaminants or smells) and store in fridge.

*Never reuse marinade that has been added to raw meat

 

A simple French dressing

Serves: 2-3 adults

Ingredients:

-1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
-½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
-3 tablespoons of rapeseed oil (olive, walnut, flaxseed)
-Black pepper to taste

 

Method:

Combine vinegar and mustard.
Whisk in the oil until creamy.
Store in a glass jar for up to 2 weeks.

Shake well before use

 

Side dishes:

Sweet Potato wedges:

Serves: 6 adults

Ingredients:

-500 g sweet potato, cut into wedges (skins on)
-1 tablespoon rapeseed oil (olive oil can be used alternatively)
-1 generous teaspoon ground cinnamon (or paprika)

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 200° C.
Combine sweet potato with oil and cinnamon (or paprika).
Arrange onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. Make sure to spread the wedges out into a single layer so they roast properly.
Bake for 40 minutes or until tender and golden.
Serve immediately and enjoy.

Pasta salad:

Serves: 1 adult

Ingredients:

-30g of pasta per person

– 1/4 red or orange pepper

– Handful of broccoli spears

-2 tbsp low-fat cream cheese

 

Method:

Place pasta into a pot of boiling water and cook until tender.

Allow pasta to cool completely.

Lightly steam or boil the broccoli and allow it to cool completely.

Cut the peppers and broccoli and add into stripes and combine with pasta.

 

Other simple side ideas:

-Potato salad

-Sliced hard-boiled egg

-Fruit and vegetable sticks

 

Dip ideas:

The green dip
Serves: 8 adults

Ingredients:
-2 avocados peeled and stone removed
-Juice from 1 lemon
-1 bunch of parsley leaves
-1 bunch of mint leaves
-2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
-1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (or whatever seeds you have)
-Good grind of black pepper
-30–60 ml water

 

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, add just enough water to bring to dipping consistency.

This is a delicious dip which tastes great with warm wholemeal pittas or vegetable sticks.

 

Baba Ghanoush

Serves: 8 adults

Ingredients:
-1 large seedless aubergine
-1 tablespoon tahini paste
-½ lemon
-1 clove garlic
-½ tsp pepper

 

Method:

Place the aubergine on a greased baking tray and bake for 30-40 minutes at 180°c.

Remove the skin.

Place flesh and other ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Allow to cool and serve.

 

Red pepper Dip

Serves: 8 adults

Ingredients:

-2 red peppers
-30g walnuts
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar/ light soy sauce will work as an alternative
-½ teaspoon black pepper

 

Method

Preheat your oven to 200° C
Place the peppers onto a greased baking tray.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the skin blackens and peppers are soft.
Remove from the oven & combine the peppers, walnuts, olive oil, balsamic, and pepper into a blender.

Blend until smooth

Roasted beetroot dip

Serves: 8 adults

Ingredients:
300 g beetroot (fresh or vacuum packed), washed, trimmed, skin left on
1 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoons rapeseed oil (or alternatively use olive, walnut or flaxseed oil)
Pinch black pepper

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 200° C.
Wrap each piece of beetroot in tin-foil and place onto a baking tray.
Bake for 40 minutes- or until the beetroot is soft.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 hour in the foil.
Wash the beetroot under a cold tap removing the outer skin & combine the beetroot in a blender along with balsamic vinegar, pepper and rapeseed.