Delicious, heart-healthy BBQ recipes you should try

Delicious, heart-healthy BBQ recipes you should try

South Africans are encouraged to eat healthy to boost immunity and reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

For those who love to grill, Pharma Dynamics has teamed up with well-known food consultant and cookbook author, Helen Mayer and the Heart and Stroke Foundation, to develop heart-healthy barbecue recipes as part of their popular “Cooking from the Heart” cookbook series.

Nicole Jennings, a spokeswoman for Pharma Dynamics, shared that the barbecue edition contains 30 recipes that cater to meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. “The recipes include healthy homemade pickles and condiments, snacks, side dishes and salads, as well as vegetarian dishes and even desserts. Many of the meals we share are around a barbecue fire, but they are often accompanied by foods that are not healthy for our hearts. “Our goal is to make people more aware,” she said. “By the nutritional mistake they make when grilling.”

The recipes are all easy to make, affordable and consist of basic ingredients, making them perfect for cooking during lockdown. It even has Jean Bray’s stamp of approval!

Try some of these recipes from the special barbecue edition of Cooking from the Heart:

Vegetable skewers:

These skewers are delicious grilled over charcoal.

You will need:

  • 125 grams of mushrooms, cut into halves
  • Three zucchinis, cut into thick slices
  • 200 grams of small tomatoes
  • Green, yellow or red pepper, seeded and cut into large cubes
  • 15 to 20 fresh bay leaves or lemon balm leaves (optional)
  • Eight to ten metal skewers or wooden kebab sticks soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) of olive or canola oil
  • Three tablespoons (45 ml) of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) finely grated lemon peel
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) each: fresh thyme, oreganum, and chopped parsley
  • One clove of garlic, and ground black pepper as desired
  • Half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of salt

You will need:

  • Place the mushrooms in a shallow dish and cover with boiling water. Soak the mushrooms for eight to ten minutes to prevent the mushrooms from falling apart when slicing them into skewers. Drain well and allow to dry.
  • Place the mushrooms and vegetables on skewers or kebab sticks, alternating between different vegetables for a colorful end result. Add a leaf or two of bay, lemon or lime leaves between the vegetables.
  • Mix the oil, lemon juice, peel, herbs and garlic together and season with pepper.
  • Spread the oil mixture on the skewers on all sides and soak them for 30 minutes. Season skewers with salt.
  • Grill vegetables over medium to low charcoal or until vegetables are tender, but not too mushy. Brush with more seasoning while grilling if necessary.
  • Serve with a protein-rich vegetarian dish for a balanced meal.


  • Add pineapple to skewers for a sweet flavor – it’s delicious with pork or chicken.
  • A little cumin, paprika, or chopped chili pepper can be added to the oil mixture if preferred.
  • For a different flavor, add 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of finely grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of mild mustard to the oil mixture.

Colored slaw with ginger and peanuts:

Crispy and colorful slaw – a great side dish!


  • ¼ cup (60 ml) of olive or canola oil
  • Three tablespoons (45 ml) of red grape vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of soy sauce
  • Four teaspoons (20 ml) of finely grated fresh ginger
  • A small red pepper, seeded and finely chopped, or as desired (optional).
  • Three tablespoons (45 ml) of fresh coriander or parsley
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) finely chopped unsalted peanuts, lemon juice, and black pepper to taste


  • 500 ml (2 cups) each chopped white and red cabbage (or more)
  • One large spinach leaf, chopped
  • Two carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cucumber, quartered and thinly sliced
  • A medium-sized pineapple, cut into quarters and cut into thin slices
  • One stalk of celery with its leaves, cut into thin slices
  • Half a red or green pepper, seeded, quartered, and thinly sliced
  • Dressing: Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
  • Salad: Mix all salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour the sauce over it and stir well. Leave the salad for 10 to 15 minutes before serving it. This will allow the salad to season.
  • Serve slaw as a side dish at a barbecue.


  • This sauce can be used as a marinade for fish, chicken, pork or vegetables.
  • Add toasted coconut to the sauce instead of peanuts.
  • Serve with steak or leftover grilled chicken on a whole wheat roll or pita bread.

Millie meal and cornbread:

A great meal and cornbread is easy to prepare.

You will need:

  • Three cups (750 ml) of coarse corn flour
  • Two cups (500 ml) of water
  • One and a half cups (375 ml) of low-fat milk
  • Half a teaspoon (2.5 ml) of salt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) of olive or canola oil
  • A can of sweet corn weighing 410 grams
  • One small onion, cut into thin slices
  • Three tablespoons (45 ml) of chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 corn on the cob, with kernels cut from the cob, or 1/2 cup (125 ml) frozen whole kernel corn, rinsed

You will need:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Place the flour meal, water, milk, salt, oil and sweet corn in a large mixing bowl. Stir well so that no dry meal appears.
  • Grease a 20 x 27 cm baking dish with a little oil, then place the flour mixture in the dish.
  • Arrange onion slices over a meal. Mix the parsley, cheese and corn and sprinkle evenly over the onions.
  • Bake for an hour or until the meal is done. Serve hot.


  • Served with barbecue sauce.
  • Bake the millie meal mixture without the onion and cheese mixture until cooked.
  • Mix a 410-gram can of onions and tomatoes with parsley and onion slices. Pour the mixture over the cooked Millie meal bread, sprinkle with the cheese and corn, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the tomato layer is heated through.
  • Serve immediately.

Chocolate fondue:

End your barbecue on a sweet note with chocolate fondue.

You will need:

  • One cup (250 ml) of low-fat milk
  • ½ x 80g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons (10 ml) of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of corn flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.2 ml) ground cinnamon, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of vanilla extract
  • Two small fruit skewers per person, made with seasonal fruit, such as apples, pears, papaya, citrus fruits, bananas, or strawberries
  • 12 to 18 marshmallows roasted over charcoal, as desired
  • 12 to 18 pieces of tennis or Marie biscuits for dipping

You will need:

  • Place the milk, chocolate and sugar in a small bowl. Heat over low heat, stirring all the time, until the chocolate melts and the sugar dissolves.
  • Mix the cornflour, cocoa and cinnamon with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of water to form a smooth dough without lumps.
  • Add a little warm milk mixture to the paste, and stir well. Stir back into the milk mixture in the bowl.
  • Stir constantly over medium heat for eight to ten minutes or until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Spoon into a warm bowl.
  • Dip the fruit or other suggested ingredients into the warm chocolate sauce.


  • The sauce will thicken as it cools. Just stir in a tablespoon of boiling water to dilute it again.
  • Chocolate sauce can also be served with ice cream. Use only 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of cornmeal and prepare it as above. The recipe will then serve eight to ten.

For healthier grilling:

  • Choose proteins wisely by choosing lean meats, such as fish and skinless chicken breast, instead of eating a lot of red meat. If you choose red meat, instead buy sirloin or tender cuts and remove any visible fat before cooking.
  • Marinate or rub the meat with salt-free spices and lemon, which adds great flavor and reduces the need for salt, which increases the risk of high blood pressure. Use cayenne pepper, cumin, garlic, cinnamon, black pepper, paprika, thyme, or rosemary for a delicious taste.
  • Limit meat intake (of any kind) to 150 grams.
  • Fill your plate with grilled vegetables, salads, and side dishes. The more colors you add, the better. In South Africa, we have a wide range of fruits all year round so be sure to add them to your BBQ menu. Meat and vegetable (kebab) sauces are always a hit. Add red, green or yellow peppers, walnuts, baby zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and onions to the skewer, and brush with healthy oil before grilling.
  • When preparing salads or side dishes, don’t drown them in salty or heavy store-bought sauces. Instead make your own healthy condiments. Visit for a variety of healthy salad dressings.
  • Choose whole-grain breads, rolls or wraps that provide extra fiber instead of white carbohydrates.
  • Consider adding a healthy topping to your ice cream, such as banana, chocolate, or fruit salad. Grilled fruit is delicious too! Natural sugars caramelize in high heat, making them sweeter and more flavourful.

The “Cooking from the Heart” initiative forms part of Pharma Dynamics’ overall wellness campaign, to promote healthy eating among the South African public in a way that is practical, affordable and delicious.

Go to to download any of our 100+ heart-healthy recipes – for free!

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