It’s January 2022. A new month. A new year. We’re looking back to the December holiday, where it wasn’t frowned upon to grab another piece of cornbread with butter and jam. To eat a second scoop of ice cream. Now, the new year’s resolution tune is on everyone’s lips. Committed. “A new year, new me, new body”.
But what if we’re born foodies? Wired to think of delicious food? Excited to try out a new recipe on the braai, regardless of the calories? More importantly, what if we don’t want to diet? But still be healthy?
Food is fuel. It is the nourishment and nutrition your body needs to function every day. Food is the core of any get together. A talking point. What we’re saying is, eat the food! In this blog, we’re giving you a few healthy braai ideas and recipes to keep on braaiing to reach your goals.
Prep before the fires are lit. Healthy salad dressings, marinades, and rubs
Let’s take it from the beginning. Every South African has their favourite meats to braai, and we’re not here to tell you which are fattier, or which has less calories in. Let’s rather look at the flavour enhancers you use to amp up the taste of your protein.
Marinade VS dry spice rub
The base of a marinade and dry spice rub is the same, it all starts with your favourite mix of herbs and spices. The difference is that a dry spice rub is just spices that can elevate the flavour of your meat, add texture, and can be used an hour before you’re about to braai. Quick like that! A marinade includes an acidic liquid like vinegar, citrus, or wine (with the spices) to tenderise your meat. Depending on the meat, you should marinate it for at least 12-24 hours before your braai.
Most store-bought bottled marinades have loads of hidden sugars and preservatives, making your marinade unhealthy if used in excess amounts. Our suggestion is to make it yourself, eliminating anything processed.
Short on time? Try out healthy, preservative free, natural Funky Ouma spices and more. Support local.
Our dry spice rub recipe: Combine your favourite spices in equal amounts. Double your amount of salt and half the amount of heat. For example, 1tsp Paprika, 1tsp Cumin, 2tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and 1/2tsp cayenne pepper. The real question is, do you add sugar or not? It is up to you. Sugar melts and caramelises as you braai, not making anything sweeter, but creating a delicious bark especially on large meats like a roast or brisket.
Want to try it out already? Check out our Coffee Crusted Ribs!
Our marinade recipe: It starts with the same dry spice rub, adding an acidic liquid of your choice. Start adding your liquid bit-by-bit until you reach a thick ‘sauce’ consistency. The more you add, the more you will dilute the flavour. Top tip, you can even use leftover marinade as a sauce. Make sure to reduce it for 10-15min in a pan because it was exposed to raw meat. Add cream or more wine to taste.
Want to try it out already? Check out our Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops!
Healthy braai side dishes
Many health gurus will tell you to avoid bread, all carbs even, to be healthy and lose weight. Not us! We’re not doctors, but we do have a few tricks up our sleeve. First up, it is important to understand that carbs are not bad, the type of carb is the difference.
Simple carbs include fruit, dairy and processed sugary foods and sweets. A momentary source of energy that will cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Needing a nap right after lunch sound familiar?
Complex carbs refer to plant-based vegetables, whole grains, and legumes that also contain fibre. The release of energy is slower and takes your body longer to digest.
Here are a few examples of ways you can make your favourite braai side dishes a bit healthier:
Healthier Braai Broodjies: A simple braai broodjie can be more than half of the calories of a full meal. Keep your cheesy deliciousness by spreading a teaspoon of cottage cheese, then layering your tomato and onion. Top it off with grated cheese roughly the size of your thumb if you press it all together. Doesn’t look like a lot, take our word for it, you won’t even notice a little less cheese.
Potato Bake: Serving size is your friend, because who hasn’t gone in for an extra spoonful of potato bake? We suggest flip your potato bake on its side instead of layering it with slices on top of each other. This way, you can keep the size of a baked potato in mind when dishing up a serving for yourself. The top half of potato (or even sweet potato as an alternative to potatoes) slices will be baked crispy with the bottom half creamy and soft.
Salads: Keep the sauces to the minimum in any salad. Where you can, make the sauce or salad dressing yourself. A well-known easy healthy salad dressing recipe calls for 1 part vinegar and 3 parts olive oil. We suggest starting with that as a base, add Dijon Mustard, something sweet like honey, salt, and pepper to taste. Want some heat? Add cayenne pepper, chilli flakes or even jalapeño sauce.
Healthy braai ideas
A good braai, healthier braai, any braai is all about the memories, the people, the laughter, and the food. Sitting around one table and eating together is another healthy braai idea – to be in the moment. To take everything in, every bite and every story shared. Be mindful and pay attention to the food in your plate. Slow things down, no need to rush eating. Give your body and your brain time to catch up to each other and avoid overeating.
Lastly, we believe in bringing people together. We believe in celebrating the moment. Not when you’re skinnier or healthier, right now. Wherever you are in your journey, in 22, we’re braaiing to reach our goals. Together.