Before packing your picnic basket with pastries or covering your barbie with full-fat bangers, check out HFG recipe consultant Phil Mundy’s tips for easy, healthier al fresco eating…
1 DIY ice lollies Freeze your favourite healthy smoothies in lolly moulds. When frozen, remove and individually wrap in clingfilm, then return the lollies to the freezer (so the moulds are free for the next batch). Frozen ripe bananas on a stick make great lollies, too. For an extra treat, drizzle with a little melted dark chocolate.
2 Ditch the crisps Bowls of crisps and tortilla chips are too easy to keep dipping into, so you rack up the calories without noticing. Swap them for these healthy dippers: cut wholemeal tortilla wraps into triangles and spray with a little oil, then sprinkle with smoked paprika, ground cumin and chilli. Bake on a lined baking sheet in a single layer for 10 min or until crisp and golden. Serve with a salsa made from chopped tomatoes and onion, lime zest and juice and tabasco.
3 Hold the pastry Frittata makes a great alternative to quiche. The absence of pastry cuts back on fat and calories and means the dish can be gluten-free, too. Heat a mixture of your favourite veg in a frying pan until softened, then scatter into a silicone cake mould (to ensure the frittata doesn’t stick) with a little grated cheese and a sprinkling of pepper. Beat some eggs, adding 2tsp milk per egg, then pour over the veg. Bake in a medium oven until set and golden. Serve warm, or cool to room temperature and chill.
4 Use simple ingredients Carrots provide the basis of a cheap, tasty and nutritious side salad. For 4 (189kcal per serving): coarsely grate 3 large carrots and mix with the zest and juice of 1 small orange, 1tbsp extra-virgin olive oil and 2tbsp each chopped raisins and toasted flaked almonds. Season with black pepper and chill until ready to pack the cool bag.
5 Sausage swaps Make your own healthier sausage rolls. To make 24 (87kcal and 4g fat each): roll out a sheet of reduced- fat shortcrust pastry to make it a few centimetres larger, then cut in half lengthways. Remove the skin from 350g reduced-fat sausages, then mix with 75g wholemeal breadcrumbs, 1 grated carrot, ½ grated apple and 1tbsp wholegrain mustard. Put half the mixture down the middle of each pastry strip, then roll from one of the long sides to enclose. Seal and glaze with beaten egg, then cut into 24. Bake at 190°C/fan 170°C/ gas 5 on a lined baking sheet for 20–25 min until cooked through.
6 Be adventurous with flavour Cook off a little Thai Curry paste, then cool and mix with 0% fat greek yogurt, finely sliced onion and peppers, cooked prawns or shredded chicken breast and chopped fresh coriander. Pack a washed round lettuce, too, ready to break off the leaves – just spoon in the filling and roll up to eat.
7 Pack in the veg It doesn’t have to be all about platefuls of meat – veg are also wonderful barbecued. Toss sliced aubergines, peppers and courgettes, red onion wedges, large flat mushrooms and part-baked sweet potatoes with a little olive oil, wholegrain mustard, lemon and garlic. For a more filling main, sprinkle with small pieces of light mozzarella.
8 Do the american thing Make a batch of iced tea for an antioxidant boost. Brew 3 teabags – English Breakfast, Earl Grey or a flavoured green tea – in 500ml boiling water for 5 min. Remove the teabags, then chill the tea. Stir in 3tbsp runny honey or a little stevia extract to taste, the juice of oranges, lemon slices and a few handfuls of sliced strawberries or peaches. Top up with lots of ice and some chilled water (add a splash of gin or vodka for cocktail hour, if you like).
9 Slim down the spuds Enjoy a higher- protein, lower-fat but delicious potato salad. Toss cooled boiled baby new potatoes with sliced spring onions, quark, lemon zest, a little Dijon mustard, a drizzle of virgin olive or avocado oil, and some ground black pepper. Add sliced radishes, sliced deseeded cucumber and finely sliced celery to boost the five-a-day factor.
10 Dilute alcoholic drinks with ice It’ll also help prevent you glugging them so quickly. Try this refreshing light beer cocktail: in a large glass, mix 5 or 6 fresh basil leaves with 2tsp runny honey and ¼ bottle of Golden Champion ale. Stir to dissolve the honey, fill the glass with ice, then top up with another ¼ bottle of ale. Serve decorated with a fresh basil leaf.