Eating healthily in the summer is, in some ways, easier - there are so many great fruits and vegetables in season and it feels like there is less of a need to fill up on heavy foods to keep us warm. However, the traditional British barbecue isn't necessarily a vitamin-filled place to be! 

We all know how a barbecue in the UK can look - meat-laden, where for some reason we feel the need to cook chicken, burgers, sausages and kebabs all at once, despite the fact we wouldn't ever combine more than 2 types of meat at any other time. Then we add a bun or three, multiple mayonnaise-dripping 'salads', and a splodge of ketchup. Whilst there is no denying that no food is a health hazard when enjoyed in moderation, our standard grill session is certainly lacking in vitamins and variety, especially when in comes to colour on the plate. We all know the saying - eat the rainbow!

To help liven up your plates and keep your gut happy, we've pulled together some of our favourite veg-based summer sides for you to try this summer. 


Recipes:


Griddled aubergines with sesame dressing

A fabulous recipe from the BBC Good Food repository, this dish brings an Asian twist to British gardens up and down the country! With only two ingredients to chop, this is ready to go by the time you’re all fired up.


Griddled aubergines with sesame dressing


Ingredients:

  • 2 large aubergines, cut into 2cm slices
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • juice 1 lemon
  • handful chopped coriander, parsley and mint, plus extra leaves to serve

Method:

  1. Brush each aubergine slice with some oil, then season. Heat a griddle pan or barbecue. When hot, griddle the aubergine slices for 2-3 mins on each side until golden brown and tender.
  2. Mix the yogurt with the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and herbs, then season. Top the aubergines with the dressing and scatter over extra herb leaves.


Chilli & Mint Peas

This pea-based dish from Jamie Oliver is a favourite for any Nando’s fan, tasting similar to their famous Macho Peas. Whether you’re a Nando’s admirer or not, this is perfect with grilled meats and halloumi alike.

Ingredients:

  • ½ a bunch of fresh mint (15g)
  • 200 g fresh podded or frozen broad beans
  • 200 g fresh podded or frozen peas
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 1 lemon


Chilli & Mint Peas

Method:

  1. Rip off and reserve the top, leafy half of the mint. Put the stalks in a pan of boiling salted water, then add the beans and peas to cook for 4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, halve and deseed the chilli and finely chop with the top, leafy half of the mint. Place in a bowl, finely grate over a little lemon zest, then squeeze in all the juice. Add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, mix, taste and season to perfection with sea salt and black pepper.
  3. Drain the beans and peas, reserving a mugful of cooking water and discarding the mint stalks.
  4. Pinch the skins off any larger beans, then pour the beans and peas on to a platter, toss with a few splashes of reserved cooking water, then spoon over the dressing.
  5. Drizzle with 1 more tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and toss together at the table before tucking in.


Indian carrot salad

This carrot salad may originate from India, but it actually isn’t spicy. Instead, this fresh and nutty grated salad from Madhur Jaffrey brings a little light refreshment to what can be a heavy meal.


Indian carrot salad


Ingredients:

  • About 4 carrots, peeled and grated on the coarse side of a box grater
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds (Black are definitely nuttier than the standard yellow ones, but yellow will do in a pinch!)
  • 1tbsp cooking oil
  • Juice of half a lemon, or 2tbps of bottles lemon juice

Method:

  1. Put the grated carrot in to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a little saucepan on a low heat. Add the mustard seeds and make sure to put a lid on. As soon as the seeds start to pop, crackle and try to jump out the pan, take it off the heat before they burn.
  3. Pour the oil and mustard seeds into the bowl with the carrot. Squeeze over the lemon juice and stir.
  4. Taste and add a pinch of salt if required to taste.


Roasted New Potato Salad with Lentils & Herb Dressing

This dish by Occasionally Eggs may have a longer ingredients list but the method is so simple it is worth not overlooking. Fresh, tangy and moreish, and much lighter than the traditional mayo based potato salad, this dish will soon become a go-to.

Potato Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 kilogram new potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups cooked french lentils
  • 2 cups fresh spinach

Herb Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dill, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F/200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Scrub the potatoes and cut any larger ones so that they're all roughly the same size (about the size of a golf ball). Coat with the avocado oil and salt and roast for 50-60 minutes, or until golden.
  2. To make the dressing, add the dill and herbs to a small bowl or jar. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
  3. To assemble the salad, place the hot potatoes in a large bowl with the lentils and spinach. Pour the dressing over top and stir until the potatoes are fully coated with dressing and the spinach is wilted.

Tip: Serve warm or cold. It will keep in the fridge for up to three days, so make a batch and have with BBQs and quick lunches throughout the week!


Roasted New Potato Salad with Lentils & Herb Dressing


Smoky cucumber salsa

If you’re thinking cucumber, you’re probably thinking straight from the fridge into a salad, right. At most, you may be imagining thin ribbons in a summer cocktail! Well, what about grilled on the BBQ itself? If you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp mint, chopped
  • 2 tbsp coriander, chopped


Smoky cucumber salsa

Method:

  1. Chop the cucumber into 8 pieces and grill over direct heat for 10 minutes until well charred.
  2. To make the dressing, combine the garlic, chilli, olive oil and lime juice in a jam jar and shake until emulsified.
  3. Dice the cucumber, coat with the dressing and scatter over the mint and coriander.


Supporting your diet

Whilst eating a varied diet during the summer boost the immune system and helps keeps joints and organs healthy, it is important to also look at the bigger picture. 

The summer, the NHS is currently advising all UK citizens to consider taking Vitamin D supplements2, as we are likely to be spending much more time indoors away from the sun than usual due to Coronavirus. Alternatively, you can up your intake of oily fish, such as mackeral, sardines or herring - fish is great on the BBQ, either directly or in a parcel with some lemon juice and fresh herbs.

As we're all currently moving less, you may assume you need less fluids or simply be out of the habit of getting up regularly to fetch a glass of water. Don't underestimate how much H20 you will need after a day in the sun, especially if you're the one standing over the barbecue!

Lastly, if you can, try to exercise daily. A game of frisbee with the kids, a kick around of the football whilst you wait for the sausages to cook or even some garden tennis helps to keep your heart healthy and is great for your mental health. If you're self-isolating and being advised not to leave the house during this period, open the windows and do a home workout!

Whatever you decide to do, keep your MedicAlert bracelet or necklace on at all times. For the equivalent of just 9p per day, you'll know that we're with you at every step, keeping you safe, just in case. 



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