Summer is finally here and I love to eat healthy and I am NEVER upset about choosing nutrition & delicious  options.

BBQ’s are a great way to get some fresh air and eat well.( as long as you don’t burn anything!)

So I’ve decided to share with you my top 10 BBQ treats and why I choose these foods.

1. Wild Salmon – Although it is a bit more expensive it’s well worth getting as it is in only in season for a few short weeks in Ireland.  The oils in salmon and other oily fish like mackerel, sardines and anchovy to name a few have been proven to increase insulin sensitively, promote muscle growth, inhibit fat storage, provide energy, prevent muscle  breakdown, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. (ok take a breath now) There are numerous studies on effects of fighting cancers and many diseases as well.  Not only do I try to eat fish at least 3 times per week but I also take it as a supplement. If you are looking to reduce your body fat you should definitely be taking a good quality fish oil.

2. Lean Organic Beef is loaded with protein and helps synthesis of hemoglobin which aids in red blood cell production.  I make my own beef burgers, they are simple and easy and you can use some of my recommend fat burning spices to your mix to ram up your metabolism.  I always eat this nude, no need for bread when I have all the other fixings to eat.  Meat is one product that should always be purchased organic where and when possible.

3. Cayenne Pepper –  This spice causes you to burn fat! I know, who would have thought. Cayenne pepper kick starts your metabolism and makes foods taste great.  Add a pinch or 2 to your bugger mix.

4. Spinach contains anti-Inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits from phytonutrients. Spinach contains numerous nutrients, making it a powerful antioxidant. The vitamin K found in leafy vegetable, helps prevent excessive activation of osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone. And let’s not forget the vitamin C, vitamin A and iron content. I use baby spinach and make a kick ass salad with rocket leaves and all the fixings.  Dressed with a home-made olive oil balsamic dressing.

5. Avocado – This Fruit is nothing shy than amazing! Avocado has anti-inflammatory benefits, better heart health, and regulating of blood sugars. Recent research has found absorption of two key carotenoid antioxidant increases significantly when fresh avocado (or avocado oil) is added to a salad. This bad boy fruit is always in my salad or make a delicious guacamole out of it to have as a topping for my bugger. CLICK HERE to check out my video on how to make it!

6. Sweet Potato – There are so many health benefits to sweet potatoes that I am only going to touch on a few.  To start they are high in the carotenoid beta-carotene. Our bodies need beta-carotene to benefit from Vitamin A, a fat-soluble antioxidant only found in animal foods. Sweet potato has anti-inflammatory properties due to an abundance of complex carbohydrate, beta-carotene, manganese, vitamin B6 and C as well as dietary fibre.  The carotenoids in sweet potato can help your body respond to insulin and stabilize your blood sugar as well making it a better choice than a regular spud which can spike up your blood sugar.  I chop in half, par boil for 5 minutes, wrap in tin foil and on it goes.  Make sure you put a nob of organic butter on it. Contrary to popular belief organic butter has many health benefits, one being having high selenium content which is a trace mineral with strong anti-oxidant properties and is crucial for optimal thyroid health and metabolism.

7. Quinoa is often referred to as a grain but is actually a seed.  A distant relative to spinach it is an excellent source of protein and unlike other grains is not missing the amino acid lysine so the protein is more complete.  It offers more iron and high levels of potassium, riboflavin as well as other B vitamins and is a good source of magnesium, zinc and has some folic acid as well.  It has a light delicate taste and is a slower releasing carbohydrate therefore not spiking blood sugar levels like other grains.  It cooks like rice and I use it instead of bulgur wheat to make Quinoa Tabbouleh.  This always goes down a treat at my BBQ’S.  CLICK HERE for my video on how to make it.

8. Onions & Garlic – Sulphurous foods such as garlic and onions are great for stimulating the sulphation pathway in the liver, responsible for detoxing heavy metals like mercury from your system.  I get large red or white onions, cut them in half, wrap them in tin foil a pop them on the barbi.  Bake until soft. These are a great complement to your meat.  Garlic, well there’s loads of that in my salad, guacamole, bugger mix and marinade for my salmon.

Here’s me last year- trooper in the rain making my asparagus!

9. Asparagus – Alsoa sulphur-containing food asparagus is just divine marinated in olive oil, garlic and lemon juice and grilled on the top shelf.

10. Mixed Berries have a low glycemic load and are known for their phytonutrients for antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-carcinogenic protection.  I chop up strawberries and blueberries then mix with white balsamic vinegar and leave to sit in the fridge.

11. Dark Chocolate –  I know I had top 10 foods to eat at a BBQ but I couldn’t leave this one out!  Good quality dark chocolate.  Yes, the legends are true: Chocolate is good for us but all chocolate is not created equal.  First, and most importantly, true dark chocolate is usually considered anything at or above 70% cacao.  Just like with wine, it’s an acquired taste for some, and your palette will adjust.  Here are just some of the benefits of dark chocolate: Studies have shown dark chocolate to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol (LDL).  It contains serotonin, a natural mood-boosting anti-depressant and stimulates pleasure-inducing endorphin production.  This makes a delicious and nutritious accompaniment to the berries and balsamic.  Shave the dark chocolate on top and YUM a perfect way to finish your BBQ!

Now, even though there are several benefits of dark chocolate, as with anything else, moderation is key.  Make sure your chocolate delights fit into your daily caloric needs, and try to work your way up to the highest percentage dark chocolate you can enjoy.