Summer is here… Time for a BBQ!

A BBQ/barbecue can be a great choice for safe GD food, but there are still some sneaky foods that you may want to steer clear of, and it can be easy to overload your plate with carbs without thinking. This post will help you find better foods for a BBQ and warn you of some of the BBQ things to avoid or limit.

Meat & Poultry BBQ hints, tips and ideas…

High in protein and natural fat, meat is a great GD-safe food (just be wary that it isn’t coated in sweet BBQ or chilli sauces which are high in sugar!)

Meat

Steaks, chops, and loins all make for great choices with simple seasoning. Use salt and freshly ground pepper, butter, garlic, chilli, lemon and herbs for extra flavour. Try beef, pork, lamb or any exotic meat; it’s all high in protein! Kebabs can be a great choice if they are high in meat content and not coated in sweet sticky sauces.

Burgers

Aim for high meat-content burgers that haven’t been bulked with cereals. Try local butchers or good quality, high meat content beef burgers from supermarkets (typically, the Finest or Best top range contains much higher meat content).

Make your own burgers using beef mince seasoning and herbs. Avoid adding breadcrumbs, as you don’t need the additional carbs. You could add cheese to the middle to create ‘Juicy Lucy’ burgers too!

If eating a burger in a wholemeal bread roll or bagel thin (Warburtons and New York Bagel Co. both have suitable bagel thins, which are lower in carbs), make sure this is the only carbohydrate on the plate, or use a bread alternative such as halloumi, lettuce, a sliced beefsteak tomato or a large flat mushroom to serve your burger in.

Sausages

Sausages vary in meat content. Cheaper and lower meat content sausages contain more bulking agents, usually cereals meaning they turn a meat product that you think would be good on a GD diet into a higher carb product.

Look for sausages with high meat content; over 90% meat content is a good guide, and look for ones with no added sugars in the ingredients.

Most butchers and supermarkets sell sausages that will be suitable.

Here are some of our favourites…

  • Heck
  • Debbie & Andrews
  • Black Farmer
  • Supermarket own-brand high-quality sausages such as Tesco Finest, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, Asda Extra Special, Co-Op Truly Irresistible, Waitrose free-range pork, Lidl Delux and Aldi Specially Selected

Chicken

Chicken portions on the BBQ can be great, but be careful they are not coated in sweet high-carb sauces like BBQ or sweet chilli.

If they’re not coated in sweet sauces, you can enjoy the crispy chicken skin or remove the skin from coated chicken to make it more tolerable.

Chicken and turkey also make great BBQ kebabs. Skewer diced chicken breast with vegetables, brush with a little olive oil and season. Remember to soak wooden skewers overnight before using them so they don’t burn on the BBQ!

Fish

From prawns to salmon steaks, fillets and whole fish, most fish will barbecue well, and they are a great source of protein and natural fat. One thing to note is that fish protein does not seem to pair carbs as well as meat protein, so bear this in mind, keeping the carb amount small and adding lots of additional fat or another source of protein to help the pairing.

You can skewer prawns or sardines to make kebabs or wrap fillets in tin foil parcels with seasoning. Fish steaks can be cooked directly on the BBQ very quickly.

prawns

Fishy inspiration…

Skewered sardines with tartare dressing – Here’s a great recipe from BBC Goodfood, packed with protein and omega-3 fish oils, which work great on the barbecue and are fab on a GD diet!

Skewered sardines with tartare dressing
Try this superhealthy fish dish when you fancy something different for the BBQ
Check out this recipe

Mackerel with sizzled garlic, ginger & tomatoes – Another fish packed with heart-healthy Omega-3 fish oils and lots of protein, mackerel. This recipe is a great recipe to try on the BBQ with lots of Chinese flavours.

Mackerel with sizzled garlic, ginger & tomatoes
This fish, served whole and baked with Chinese flavours, makes a stylish meal for two. Grill it or pop it on the BBQ
Check out this recipe

Roasted chilli prawns – Prawns skewered on the BBQ are a beautiful fresh dish. Brushed with butter and lemon juice, they can taste amazing, but if you prefer a little kick to your meals, this recipe for roasted chilli prawns may be better for you and contains no added sugar.

Roasted chilli prawns
Finish these Brazilian-style prawn skewers on the barbecue then let everyone peel and dip in smoky chilli dip
Check out this recipe

Vegetarian and Vegan BBQ ideas

Of course, vegetable kebabs are a great idea for the BBQ. Still, you also need to think about where you can add some protein and natural fats to the meal so that it helps pair any carbs (not forgetting that vegetables contain carbs in varying amounts).

Tofu, Quorn, Tempeh and Seitan, olives, avocado, nuts, seeds and nut butter are all good vegan choices that could be incorporated into vegan burgers or sausages. Of course, eggs and cheeses are good choices for vegetarians.

Over this past year, there has been a huge increase in vegan food alternatives available in shops. The main thing to bear in mind is whether these meat alternatives have enough protein in them, and if not, you need to think of ways to increase the protein and fats on the plate, especially if attempting to eat a vegan vegetable-based burger in a bread roll.

Beans and pulses are good sources of protein but can be harder to tolerate and don’t make such good pairing tools due to them being higher in carbs. However, if you count them as part of your carb for the meal and go easy on any other carbs, they can be good plant protein sources.

Vegetarian BBQ inspiration…

Melting-middle aubergine parcels dressed with pesto sauceThis recipe from Barney Desmazery, shared on BBC Goodfood, these oozing parcels of cheese are a great idea for getting some protein & natural fats onto your vegetarian BBQ plate.

Grilled Eggs in Portobello Mushrooms – Yes, I’ve done it; I’ve managed to find a way of having eggs cooked on the barbecue! These eggs barbecued in portobello mushrooms would be ideal for the GD diet. The recipe can be found here.

Courgette & halloumi skewers – Halloumi is lovely on the BBQ, and you could add any vegetables you fancy with this recipe, but the dressing may make for something a little different. If you don’t like or can’t eat halloumi, then tofu also works well.

Grilled Vegetable Quesadillas with Goat Cheese and Pesto – I love quesadillas on the BBQ, and this recipe from Domesticate Me looks like a fab vegetarian recipe that would work well on a GD diet. Don’t be shy about the cheese though! And go for full-fat instead of skimmed cheese. Use wholemeal seeded or BFree tortillas for a slower release carb in this recipe, and serve with a big helping of sour cream and guacamole to increase the protein and natural fats.

Pepper & feta parcelsThis recipe shared by Olive Magazine is great if you are cooking meat on the same BBQ as your vegetarian food, as these can be wrapped in tin foil parcels to stop any meat from contaminating them. Use plenty of feta and add other cheeses, too if you want to increase the protein and fat even more!

Peppers with mozzarella, chilli and pine nutsAnother pepper recipe from Olive Magazine, but this one may be better for those who like a bit of heat!

Griddled vegetables with melting aubergines – A vegan dish with plenty of extra fats from olive oil, seeds and kalamata olives; check out the recipe at BBC Good Food.

Vegan satay with peanut sauce – A vegan kebab made with tofu and a peanut satay dipping sauce. Just replace the sugar in this recipe with a sweetener such as xylitol or erythritol. You can find the recipe at Cilantro & Citronella.

Coconut Crusted Tempeh Skewers – Now, this recipe is great but does come with a recipe for a mango salsa, which most will find far too high in sugars to tolerate (mango spiked my blood glucose levels within minutes of eating it when I ate a small piece of my son’s mango when preparing it one day without thinking – I was shaking and heart was racing so quickly, so please avoid this super sweet fruit). Therefore I would serve these with a normal tomato-based salsa instead. Check out this coconut-crusted tempeh recipe.

Chickpea burgers in roasted portobello ‘buns’ – A great vegan burger recipe that is higher in protein but uses a mushroom as the burger bun means the carbs from the chickpeas are tolerated better. You can find the recipe in Sainsbury’s Magazine.

BBQ Side Dishes

Use your side dishes to help pair your meal where possible and fill you up with green salad and vegetables. Here are a few ideas to keep your BBQ flavoursome and interesting…

Colelsaw
Delicious crunchy creamy coleslaw. The perfect side dish for adding extra fibre and natural fats to help to pair carbs on your plate
Check out this recipe
Coleslaw
Kickin’ Coleslaw
Creamy coleslaw but one that packs a huge chilli kick! If you like spice in your life, then this coleslaw should not disappoint!
Check out this recipe
Kickin' Coleslaw
Celeriac Remoulade
Crunchy strips of celeriac, coated in a creamy French mayonnaise dressing. A lovely alternative to traditional coleslaw and a tasty side dish to add to your salad
Check out this recipe
Celeriac Remoulade

Sesame-grilled asparagus rafts – Asparagus on the BBQ is delicious and can be cooked so quickly, but this recipe with the added sesame seeds means you are increasing the protein and fat content, which helps pair your meal more.

Avocado seven-layer salad bowl – A layered salad bowl packed with extra protein and natural fats. Swap the ingredients in this recipe for full-fat alternatives, and this makes for a super GD-friendly side dish that will help pair your meal.

Greek SaladHere’s Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Greek salad. The feta cheese, olives and extra virgin olive oil help pair your meal.

Tomato, basil and mozzarella kebabs – Slices or pearls of mozzarella, basil and tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper bring beautiful colour to the table, which is sweet, tasty and paired well too.

Classic deviled eggs – Boiled eggs are a great addition to a GD BBQ, but why not have devilled eggs for a change? Here’s a recipe for classic deviled eggs.

Green salad with avocado – Fill up on lots of green salad. Salad leaves are packed with vitamins and minerals and are a good source of fibre for your body too. This recipe has avocado and olive oil added, both high in good fats, which will help pair any carbs you eat.

Beware… Pick your BBQ carbs carefully!

BBQs can hide carbs in a few different places, from sauces to salads, bread rolls, potatoes and corn. Think about which one carb you are going to add to your plate and avoid double-carbing (adding more than one main carbohydrate per meal). Go for the carbs that you know you personally tolerate better.

Bread rolls

Bread rolls, especially white rolls and brioche rolls, are high in refined carbohydrates and will spike blood sugar levels quickly. Depending on your tolerance of bread, you may want to avoid bread rolls completely.

Bagel thins can work well as a burger bun substitute (Warburtons and New York Bagel Co. both have suitable bagel thins lower in carbs).

If you tolerate wholemeal and wholegrain seeded bread OK, then a wholemeal roll may be tolerated well, especially when paired with a burger, sausages, etc. If not, try replacing the traditional bread roll with lettuce, halloumi cheese, a large portobello mushroom or a sliced beefsteak tomato.

Sweetcorn (corn on the cob)

Sweetcorn is naturally sweeter than many other vegetables and can cause some people’s blood sugar levels to spike. Others can tolerate sweetcorn OK, but it should be eaten with caution, in small amounts and ideally paired with real butter and other sources of protein and fat to help make it more tolerable. If you love barbequed sweetcorn, then this Grilled Mexican Corn with Chili Lime Mayo recipe from a couple cooks may be the carb you want on your plate!

Sauces

I’ve mentioned it a lot throughout this post, but this is because many ladies make the mistake of eating them without thinking about how much sugar they contain.

Sauces like ketchup, BBQ sauce and sweet chilli can have high amounts of sugar. Carbs turn into sugar in the bloodstream, and so if looking at nutritional labels, take note of how many carbs per serving you would be eating.

Even lower sugar versions still contain high amounts of carbs, but there are some better no added sugar versions now becoming more widely available such as this no added sugar & salt Heinz ketchup which has only 5.7g carbs per 100g (please note, this is the NO ADDED SUGAR tomato ketchup with the turquoise label, not the 50% reduced sugar & salt one with a light blue label)

Heinz tomato ketchups compared

You could also try using fresh tomatoes to replace tomato ketchup (although some do not tolerate tomatoes particularly well). If you need a sauce, then a better alternative is full-fat mayonnaise. If you prefer hot and spicy, then Frank’s hot sauce is a good choice for you!

If you want a low-carb BBQ sauce for dipping, drizzling or marinade, then try out my BBQ Sauce recipe.

BBQ Sauce
Smoky sweet BBQ sauce but with no added sugars!
Check out this recipe
Low Carb No Added Sugar BBQ Sauce
Low Carb No Added Sugar BBQ Sauce

Potatoes

Baking a potato increases the GI value, meaning it converts to glucose in the bloodstream much faster. Depending on your tolerance to potatoes, a small barbequed baked potato paired well with butter and sour cream or cheese may be an option for you.

New potatoes have a much lower GI, but for some, they may still spike blood glucose levels. 3-4 egg-sized new potatoes are a rough guide to portion serving size for new potatoes, but some will find they can tolerate more. If you struggle with potatoes, then you may find even one spikes your levels too high.

New potatoes coated in butter or potato salad in creamy full-fat mayonnaise will help pair the potatoes more tolerable. Here is a great recipe shared on BBC Good Food for Next Level Potato Salad!

Pasta, rice and couscous salad

These salads could be your main carb for the meal, but it will depend on your tolerance to these carbs.

Whole wheat (brown) pasta is slightly better than white. Basmati and wholegrain (brown) rice are better than other varieties, but all raise blood sugar levels. Mayonnaise, pesto, and olive oil-dressed salads will help with pairing.

Around 3 tbsp of cooked pasta/rice/couscous is a good suggested serving size, but some will be able to eat much more if they tolerate these carbs better and pair well.

Recipe ideas…

Pesto Pasta Salad by Cookie and Kate, Moroccan Spiced CousCous by Erren’s Kitchen, Mediterranean Brown Rice Salad by Ahead of Thyme

BBQ Drinks

Water is always the best thing to drink, but if you fancy something different, then there are lots of suitable cold drinks that you could have. Take a look at the drinks page for ideas.

Suitable fruit juices, mocktails and cold drinks can sometimes be challenging to find as they may contain sugar, artificial sweeteners or alcohol.

One of the biggest problems with non-alcoholic drinks is that they tend to be very high in carbs, and drinking liquid sugar is going to cause many problems for anyone with any insulin resistance.

Watch out for non-alcoholic wines, spritzers, beers, ciders, cocktails and fruit juices. Unfortunately, you will need to pay close attention to labels when selecting your drinks. Ideally, you want to select drinks that have zero carbs per 100ml.

Non-alcoholic Fake ‘Pimms’

This cheats, non-alcoholic version of Pimms without the main ingredient makes for a nice refreshing drink at your summer BBQ. It may sound odd, but give it a go!

Fake Pimms
Fake Pimms | Non-alcoholic | Gestational Diabates UK
Check out this recipe
Fake Pimms

Citrus Refresher

A simple zingy citrus drink to keep you hydrated on a hot day.

Citrus Refresher
Citrus Refresher | A refreshing citrus drink to enjoy on hot summer's days | Gestational Diabetes UK
Check out this recipe
Citrus Refresher

Desserts and Sweet Treats

If you want to have a dessert or something sweet following your main BBQ meal, then it is best to go very low carb with the main meal to allow some extra carbs in the sweet or wait to test your post-meal blood glucose levels before having the dessert and then test your levels again 1 hour afterwards (to see how well you have coped). The more you eat at one time, the more food your body needs to process and so it is often best to split up a meal rather than putting too much pressure on your body to produce and use enough insulin.

Sweet Treat BBQ Ideas

There are lots more sweet treat recipes within the GD UK Subscription Recipes too!

Thick ice cream shakes!

If you have a food processor or blender and love thick ice cream shakes, then these no added sugar versions are a must-try!

Thick Vanilla Shake
Just like melted ice cream, this thick vanilla ice cream shake is to die for on a hot sunny day!
Check out this recipe
thick vanilla shake
Thick Chocolate Shake
A thick chocolate shake made with ice cream and my sugar-free chocolate syrup
Check out this recipe
thick chocolate shake
Thick Strawberry Shake
A thick strawberry ice cream milkshake but with no added sugars, the perfect snack on a hot sunny day!
Check out this recipe
thick strawberry shake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake
A thick chocolate milkshake that works great for chocolate lovers as a snack on sunny days and it's also vegan!
Check out this recipe
chocolate peanut butter shake