Mediterranean BBQ for Type 2 Diabetes
What should we be grilling this season? Colorful, fresh foods that rely on simple preparations and naturally robust flavors. Having Mediterranean style BBQ is a great way for Type 2’s to enjoy good food while making choices that contribute to their healthy diet.
The Mediterranean diet is a nearly a century-old pattern of eating that includes the most popular foods in the Mediterranean countries, including Greece, Spain, and Southern Italy. Although there is no one-size-fits-all way of eating in this region, there are many similarities. Fish, red wine, whole grain products, fruits, vegetables, rice, and pasta are abundant in these countries' diets. In this location, red meat is rarely consumed. Olive oil replaces butter, and salt is replaced with spices and herbs. Food is frequently lightly cooked and little prepared. We are here to serve up some delicious grilled ideas for your Med-Style BBQ this week.
Med BBQ/Grill Technique
BBQ and grilling are technically different - one is slow cooking over indirect heat (BBQ) and one is quick with indirect or direct heat (Grill). Either way, there are specific details that make Mediterranean grilling/BBQ stand apart from the rest. Lightening up the ingredients and seasonings to include more veggies and lighter proteins, while using less red meat, sugary glazes and less added salt. Using olive oil, fresh herbs and lemon juice to season our BBQ will enhance the natural flavors instead of drowning or changing them. When we think of BBQ we naturally think of meat. However, meat can be somewhat of an afterthought with all the delicious plant based Mediterranean food to be grilled!
Grilled marinated veggies are the glue of a Mediterranean BBQ. You can include filling, colorful vegetables such as eggplant, artichoke, colorful bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and mushrooms. The temperature of the grill should be very hot to get that dark char, which adds so much flavor. You can keep these grilled veggies whole, or mix them into a hearty salad. Try marinating them first in red wine vinegar, olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper. Use the marinade as the dressing for the salad! Accompany your grilled sides with some tabouli, hummus, or a quinoa cucumber salad. Check out some great recipes from Mediterranean Living here.
Skewers are a very traditional way to cook, dating back thousands of years around the Mediterranean. It’s a great way to combine smaller pieces of protein such as prawns or shrimp, small pieces of chicken, and rosemary lamb with beautiful layers of veggies. You can layer similar sized pieces of whatever you’d like and let them add flavor to each other. Bigger pieces of protein like whole fish or chicken thighs are a Med crowd favorite. If you want to take your grill to where the Mediterranean meets the Middle East, enjoy this grilled beef kofta (a mixture of minced lamb and beef) kebab recipe from Earth Food and Fire.
2 lb of ground beef or lamb
5 cloves of minced garlic
2 small onions finely minced
½ bunch of chives finely chopped
3 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon ground corriander
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1.5 teaspoon ground black pepper
2.5 teaspoons of salt
¾ teaspoon chilli flakes or ground pepper flakes
1 whole egg
24 bamboo or wood skewers
- Mix all your spices, herbs and egg with the ground meat and mix it together with your hands. Really mix it through and make sure that the spices are evenly distributed. Set the meat aside(covered and in the refrigerator to follow safe food practices of course).
- Depending on what length your wooden skewers are, cut them into 6 inch lengths. Place them in a bowl of water to absorb some moisture. This will help prevent the skewers from charring and turning to ash if you are cooking the beef kofta skewers over a BBQ or Fire. Preheat your grill or start a fire and let it burn down until the coals are nice and hot, with almost no real "flame"
- Shape the ground spiced meat into 2 ½ - 3 inch cigar-shaped rolls, and then insert a skewer into one end until it goes through the length of the "cigar". Don't poke it out the other side though!
- Brush these skewered kebabs with a little bit of olive to prevent the meat from sticking to the cooking grill. As soon as the grill is nice and hot, you can place the Beef Kofta Kebab right on the grate. You should hear a nice sizzling sound. If the meat starts to drip a little, turn down the heat (over a fire, spread out the coals to cool them down) to prevent the fire or BBQ from flaring up and charring the skewers. Even though you soaked the wooden skewers to prevent them from burning, you can take a sheet of tinfoil and lay it over a section of grill that is not as hot. Over this strip of tinfoil, place the wooden end of the kebab, to help ensure char free handles!
- Turn the skewers until they are a nice golden brown on both sides. You can use a food thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165F for a fully cooked skewer. You can also keep a close eye on the meat, and once you see the juices starting to run out clear, the meat is cooked through.
Chilled and Grilled Drinks
When it comes to drinks and desserts, the Med has it down to a science. With warm dry summers, the goal is to stay hydrated, light and cool. Many cocktails include zesty citrus and sparkling water or wine, such as the popular St. Tropez cocktail. You can make it with Grey Goose Le Citron (vodka), elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and soda. Or, enjoy a Limoncello as a post grill aperitif - you can make it with lemons, pure grain alcohol (95% vol.), and a white sugar substitute.
For dessert, many Mediterranean countries are enjoying fresh fruit. A delicious addition to your Med BBQ is to grill some fruit for dessert. Grilled watermelon, pineapple, figs, nectarines or peaches are all fantastic options and can even be sliced and skewered into kabobs for easy grilling! Skip the cake or your ice cream cone and opt for some natural sugar that won’t weigh you down - it’s the Med way.
It has been said that Mediterranean food is best served with good company. Enjoy your BBQ season with fresh air, delicious food, a slower pace and great friends and family. For more seasonal recipes and healthy eating tips for type 2’s join our Winning Type 2 Diabetes Together community on Facebook and connect with thousands of other diabetics around the world. It’s our everyday choices that make us stronger and with the support from each other we continue to win together.