A barbecue without meat? – Helen May

Helen May

As a non-meat-eater, many think a barbecue is not for me. Traditionally, barbecues are a chance for the man of the house to charcoal some sausages and burgers whilst user cooking the chicken.

It’s never been like that for me. I think there is a well-controlled pyromaniac inside me who likes playing with fire and enjoys the smokey flavour. So a gas burner is not for me: I enjoy lighting the charcoal and watching the flames die down. As there are only two of us, we have a small kettle barbecue which uses real briquets. Thirty minutes before we want to start cooking, the briquets are built up into a pyramid over a small fire lighters to get it going. Then “woof”. The flames are alight.

Then it’s time to start preparing the food. The Diabetes UK Enjoy Food site has some great ideas for summer cooking. Over the years, I have built up my own barbie portfolio.

Veggie-wise, it is surprising what can be grilled: courgettes, aubergine, … have you tried barbecued carrots? They are sweet and delicious. Or what about par boiling some new potatoes and then finishing them off as mini jacket spud? And, of course, I love the taste of charred peppers.

Ovegbarbecue-150x150K, so that’s fine for a the vegetable component of the plate but we also need some protein. For an easy life, there are some ok veggie sausages. Some veggie burgers work but I find you need to ensure they are ones which are pretty solid – the less dense burgers have a tendency to fall apart through the grill. And talking of solid vegetarian options, haloumi is one of my favourites. I often combine it with the vegetables into a cheesy, veggie kebab.

At the start, I mention I was a non-meat-eater; I did not say I was a vegetarian. That’s because I eat fish. Anyone who has visited Southern Europe will know how wonderful fish tastes when cooked on the coals. Often, I cook whole fish like sardine, mackerel or sea bream. But, some people don’t like their food looking up at them as they eat and don’t like fussing over bones. Therefore, I also cook fish steaks: cod, salmon or … I guess I could try tuna.

I often use a sauce as a marinade: vegetable kebabs soaked in pesto, salmon in thai green curry or teryaki. Or if I don’t have the time to make the sauce, I just mix lime juice, ginger and chilli for a bit of a kick.

I love eating outside: during the day there’s the sun and in the evening, I am lucky to have the thrill of watching bats over head. But if that isn’t enough reason, it’s also healthy (depending on the marinade). I don’t eat a special diabetes diet but I like to eat healthily. What’s more healthy than fresh vegetables and fish? It’s even low carb.

But if you’re worried about being too healthy, there is always the option to split a banana, push in some chunks of chocolate and wrap in foil. It’s energy efficient, maximising the heat from the briquets. And next time I have some peaches, I’m going to try them on a barbecue – I have recent read they get softer and sweeter. I just need to remember to take some insulin.

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