Summer is here… Time for a BBQ!
A BBQ (barbecue) can a 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 is high in sugar!)
Steaks, chops, 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 meats, it’s all protein!
Aim for high meat content burgers which haven’t been bulked with cereals. Try local butchers or good quality, high meat content beef burgers from supermarkets.
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 middle to create ‘Juicy Lucy’ burgers too!
If eating a burger in a bread roll make sure this is the only carb on the plate. Try using half a Lidl high protein roll, a wholemeal roll (but only if you can tolerate wholemeal bread OK), or use a bread alternative such as halloumi, lettuce or a large mushroom to serve your burger in.
Sausages vary in meat content. Cheaper and lower meat content sausages contain more bulking agents which are 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 that have high meat content, over 90% meat content is a good guide to use and look for ones which have no added sugars in the ingredients.
Most butchers and supermarkets sell sausages that will be suitable.
Here are some of our favourites…
- Debbie & Andrews
- The Harrogate Sausage Co
- Black Farmer
- Supermarket own brand high quality sausages such as Tesco Finest, Sainsburys Taste the Difference, Asda Extra Special, Co-Op Truly Irrisistable, Waitrose free range pork, Lidl Delux and Aldi Specially Selected
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 you can remove the skin from coated chicken to make it more tolerable.
If you want a spicy chicken recipe, then try out this one for Jalapeño-Lime Chicken Wings from Stupid Easy Paleo
Or for something different why not try this recipe from Three beans on a string; Garlicky lemon cuban chicken
Chicken and turkey also makes 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 that they don’t burn on the BBQ!
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.
You can skewer prawns or sardines to make kebabs, or wrap fillets in tinfoil parcels with seasoning.
Fish steaks can be cooked directly on the BBQ very quickly.
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!
Another fish packed with lots of 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.
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.
Vegetarian BBQ ideas
Of course, vegetable kebabs are a great idea on the BBQ, but you also need to think where you can add some protein and natural fats to the meal so that it helps pair any carbs.
Tofu, Quorn, eggs and cheese are good choices.
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 then they can be good vegetarian sources of protein.
Vegan BBQ ideas
Being vegan and having GD can be very challenging as it’s hard getting enough protein and fat into meals to help pair carbs.
ASDA have just launched some great new vegan lines that would make for great vegan GD friendly BBQ ideas such as plant-based burgers and sausages that cook straight from the freezer!
- Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Red Pepper Sausages
- Mushroom & Kale Sausages
- Edamame, Asparagus & Mint Burgers
- Beetroot & Spinach Burgers
Here’s a few different ideas if you’re lost for GD Vegetarian BBQ inspiration…
This 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.
Yes we’ve done it, we’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.
Halloumi is lovely on the BBQ and you could add any vegetables you fancy with this recipe, but the dressing may make for a something a little different.
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 on the cheese though!
Use wholemeal seeded 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.
This 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 contaminating them.
Use plenty of feta and add other cheeses too if you want to increase the protein and fat even more!
Another pepper recipe from Olive Magazine, but for those who like a bit of heat, this one may be a better recipe.
BBQ Side dishes
Use your side dishes to help pair your meal where possible and fill you up with green salad and vegetables. Here’s a few ideas to keep your BBQ flavoursome and interesting…
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.
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.
With the feta cheese, olives and extra virgin olive oil this helps pair your meal.
Full fat creamy coleslaw is a nice addition to a BBQ but if you fancy making your own which is a bit different to just chopped veggies and mayonnaise, try this Tangy cabbage slaw which has no added sugar and make sure you use full fat pasteurised mayonnaise.
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 a beautiful colour to the table which are sweet, tasty and paired well too.
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 devilled eggs.
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. Go for the carbs that you know you personally tolerate better.
Bread rolls, especially white rolls are high in refined carbohydrates and will spike blood sugar levels quickly.
Depending on your tolerance to bread, you may want to avoid bread rolls completely.
If you tolerate wholemeal and wholegrain, seeded breads OK then a wholemeal roll may be tolerated well, especially when paired with a burger or sausages etc.
If not, try using a Lidl protein roll, or replacing the traditional bread roll with lettuce, halloumi cheese or a large portobello mushroom.
Sweetcorn is naturally sweeter than many other vegetables and can cause some ladies blood sugar levels to spike. Others are able to tolerate sweetcorn OK, but it’s something that should be eaten with caution, in small amounts and ideally paired with butter and other sources of protein and fat to help make it more tolerable.
I’ve mentioned it a lot through 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 in them. 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 low sugar versions still contain high amounts of carbs. Try using fresh tomatoes to replace tomato ketchup and if you need a sauce then a better alternative is full fat mayonnaise.
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 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 sugar 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 to be more tolerable.
Pasta, rice and couscous salad
These type of salads could be your carb for the meal, but once again it will depend on your tolerance to these carbs.
Wholewheat pasta is slightly better than white. Basmati and wholegrain (brown) rice is 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.
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 our drinks page for ideas.
If you want to start drinking raspberry leaf tea (which is also thought to help lower blood sugar levels), then you should check with your midwife when would be best.
But how about making a jug of raspberry leaf tea to drink chilled with ice? This recipe shared by Wellness Mama has some other ingredients too which you may want to try.
Homemade lemonade can be really refreshing, but most recipes require sugar. This is a sugar free recipe using sweetener instead is a nice alternative for a summery BBQ treat.
Alcohol free drinks
If your craving an alcohol free alternative, then beware of wines, fruit drinks, mocktails and ciders which can be very high in sugar.
Becks Blue is a better alternative, but you remember that it still contains 9g carbs per bottle.
This means cutting back carbs on your plate so that you can drink this. Being a drink, the glucose from the carbs will be absorbed into the bloodstream much faster than food, so ideally drink this alongside more protein and fats to help slow down any spikes in levels. Eating nuts alongside this drink will help!
This cheat 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!
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 ltrs diet lemonade, lots of ice, mint, slices of orange, lemon, limes, cucumber and strawberries
Ideally leave a gap to allow for blood testing after your main meal before eating a dessert. Eating large amounts at one time mean that your body will have to work harder and produce more insulin to process the large amount of food. But eating little and often will help to stabilise and lower your blood sugar levels.
Strawberries and cream
Depending on your tolerance to fruit, strawberries and cream can make for a great GD snack or dessert. Berries have a lower GI value than many fruits and are one of the more tolerable fruits.
All fruit contains fructose which is a natural sugar, meaning fruit is a a carb. Use double cream, clotted cream or like in this picture both double cream and Anchor Extra Thick Spray cream (one of the only spray creams that does not have added sugar) to help pair your strawberries.
Adding nuts and seeds will also help pair the fructose from the strawberries.
Sugar free Jelly
It’s light, it’s simple. It’s cold and it has very little carbs meaning you can eat it right after the rest of your meal without waiting.
You can have ice cream with gestational diabetes, but it’s all about selecting the right ice cream and pairing it well. Take a look at our ice cream post for help on selecting ice cream and tips on serving and pairing.
Gestational Diabetes UK membership recipes…
Summer Pudding Mug Cake
This mug cake recipe is a truly yummy cake recipe, suitable for a summers day. It is made in mugs for individual portions and can be made in a matter of minutes!
The recipe is refined sugar free, low carb and gluten free
Sugar Free Panna Cotta
Creamy, luxurious panna cotta. Perfect for BBQs where everyone can enjoy a sugar free dessert and not even realise they are eating a dessert that has no refined sugars… honestly they won’t taste the difference!