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By Nutrition Expert

Wednesday, July 7, 2010.

What would you like with your hamburger? Ketchup? Mustard? Saturated fat and calories, maybe? Lurking inside that burger bun, you can find around a third of your daily fat requirements and over 300 cals in a 4-oz burger – and that’s not even counting the bun and all the trimmings.

If you're lighting up the barbeque now that summer's here, remember that as well as getting the unhealthy stuff, you might also be missing valuable nutrients. With this great weather, the garden barbecue could be a regular event, and that can add up to a lot of chops, sausages, burgers and tortilla chips.

So how can you take advantage of this low-fat and tasty cooking and get more nutritional bang from your barbie? Bite into this menu instead of the usual suspects. You'll also surprise your taste buds.

1. Spicy Bean Dip with Crudités

Love to snack on chips and dips? Serve this spicy bean purée with crisp peppers, baby carrots, cucumber slices and celery sticks instead – it has a fraction of the fat of ready-made dips and provides valuable dietary fibre.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a small pan and cook a finely chopped onion and a chopped chilli until softened. Add a can of black-eye beans, drained and rinsed, and 1 tbs water; cook until heated through. Transfer to a food processor, add ½ - 1 tbs hot pepper sauce, according to taste, and the juice of half a lime. Puree until smooth, adding more water if necessary. Stir in a tbs reduced fat sour cream and 1-2 tbs fresh coriander.

Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition Information: 100 calories, 2g fat and 16g carbs (1 Unit) per serving.


2. Salmon-Dill Burgers

When you’re mixing together the ingredients for the burger, don’t remove the soft bones from the salmon - crush them up with your fork for a dose of calcium that you won’t find in a burger made from beef. Canned salmon is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to lower cholesterol and heart disease risk (the saturated fat in beef, on the other hand, is the artery-clogging kind). Whisk together Dijon mustard and honey to make a tasty topper for these burgers.

Combine a large tin of salmon (large bones removed, smaller bones crushed), 1 tbs fresh or 1 tsp dried dill, 2 slices of bread made into bread crumbs, 2 lightly beaten egg whites, 2 chopped spring onions and black pepper. Shape into patties and cook on a high barbeque rack or in a non-stick frying pan until golden brown on each side.

Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition Information: 200 calories, 8g fat and 10g carbs (3 Units) per serving.

3. Maple-Grilled Fruit

Keep the barbecue burning for a sweet ending. Heat from the grill helps bring out fruit’s natural sweetness and juice. Depending on the fruit you choose, you’ll get vitamins and some fibre - the ice cream man can’t dish out those good things or the zero fat in this treat. Serve the grilled fruit with fruit sorbet for a tropical dessert.

Combine 4 tbs grape juice, 4 tbs maple syrup and a pinch of nutmeg in a small bowl. Brush mixture lightly over a sliced pineapple, 4 halved peaches or nectarines and 4 halved plums. Cook over the barbeque until grill marks appear and fruit is slightly brown.

Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition Information: 130 calories, 0g fat and 31g carbs (1.5 Units) per serving.


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