Summer braais – the healthy way

Homemade is best – that was last month’s theme. For the holiday weeks, the same applies, especially with all the summer braais we South Africans love. To ensure your braai is a heart healthy meal, you just need to make the best choices. Here are some practical tips to help you.

Chops, wors and braaivleis 

  • Lean meats like chicken breast or fillet, or pork, beef or lamb with not too much fat are best. Braai over medium-hot coals to keep it juicy and tasty and not overcook them.
  • Always trim off any visible fat or cut meat into cubes, skewer and braai as kebabs or sosaties for a leaner end result.
  • Read the label when buying processed sausage (like boerewors), as these often contain excess fat, salt and preservative. Make the best choice and enjoy moderate portions.
  • Fish is a fabulous lean protein – braai it as a delicious and healthy alternative to meat.


  • A marinade should enhance the flavour or texture of meat. Shop-bought marinades can be very high in salt, sugar and chemical preservatives, making them unhealthy and often drawing natural juices from meat.
  • Rather make your own marinade to limit the salt and sugar.
  • Use seasonings, like fresh or dried herbs, salt-free spices like cumin and coriander, and mustard, lemon juice or black pepper.
  • Try this: Mix 7,5 ml each ground coriander, paprika and dried rosemary, add 15 ml each dried thyme and origanum and 5 ml ground cumin. Stir in some olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and rub onto meat or chicken.


  • All meals should be balanced – braais are no exception. When dishing up, make sure half the plate is fruit or veggies, a quarter is high-fibre carbohydrates and another quarter lean protein. Add a dash of good oils with avocado slices, nuts or olive oil.
  • Potato salad, potato bake, garlic bread and pasta salad all count as carbs. Vary the side dishes with green salad, roasted vegetables or even fresh fruit.
  • Choose one carb-based side dish and make sure the rest is made up of veggies or fruit.

Avoid rich or creamy dressings and mayonnaise. Rather make your own salad dressing with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs or spices – perfect on any salad from a green or potato salad or platter of green veggies.

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