Lean towards healthy this Australia Day

Australia Day falls during Healthy Weight Week in 2013 so dietitians are calling for proud supporters to add a nutritional twist to their classic celebratory barbecue.

The Dietitians Association of Australia is specifically targeting young women in its campaign to encourage smarter food choices because rates of weight gain are higher in this group than other Australians.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 35 per cent of Australian women aged 18 to 24 years are considered overweight or obese, up from 27 per cent in 1995.

"Australia Day is a great excuse to get together over a barbecue lunch with family or friends," accredited practising dietitian Lisa Renn said.

"But over-indulging, particularly on alcohol and less-than-healthy snacks, can spell disaster for your waistline, especially as many people are still recovering from Christmas cake and new year nibbles."

Renn said traditional barbecue fare such as sausages and hamburgers are typically high in saturated fat and salt and recommends lean beef, lamb, chicken, seafood or vegetable kebabs as healthier options.

"Other healthy barbecue staples include wholegrain or wholemeal bread or rolls, barbecued vegetables or a green salad, grainy crackers, vegetable sticks and low-fat dips as starters, and a fresh fruit salad for dessert," she said.

Celebrity chef Luke Mangan, who has a 'simple, healthy and fresh' approach to food, is supporting Australia's Healthy Weight Week in 2013.

Here he supplies a few simple tips on how to get the most out of your barbecue lunch or dinner, as well as a recipe for some wonderful beef kebabs that will wow any crowd.

LUKE MANGAN'S AUSTRALIA DAY BARBECUE TIPS

• Use lean cuts of meat. Trim any visible fat from meat and take the skin off chicken before cooking. Add flavour and tenderness through marinades.

• Marinade with healthy flavours. Try marinades that use garlic, onion, herbs, honey, mustard, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice as ingredients.

• Throw some vegetables on the grill. Vegetables that work well on the barbecue include mushrooms, onions, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus spears and corn on the cob.

• Get creative with salads. Steer clear of bought coleslaw and potato salad, which can be high in fat. Make your own delicious, healthy salads - such as couscous with roast vegetables and garlic, or with dried apricots, nuts and herbs.

• Avoid charred or burnt meat and chicken. Instead, barbecue meat until just cooked through.

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