Barbecue-lovers around Australia who’ve been fretting over the news that sausage sangas – served on white bread and topped with tomato sauce – are high in salt can take a deep breath. Your barbecue days are not over and this is not an excuse to abstain from voting in the next election or visit Bunnings ever again.
Simone Austin, Accredited Practising Dietitian and media spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia says if you only have sausage sandwiches on the very rare occasion, you “don’t have to give sausages up completely”.
If, on the other hand, you consume snag sangas on a more regular basis, Austin advises a few simple modifications to your BBQ routine to reduce its salt content.
1. Buy meaty, low-fat sausages
Austin explains that when it comes to sausages, salt and saturated fat go hand-in-hand. A product that is high in fat will usually contain a lot of salt.
On the flip side, sausages that don’t use a lot of fat will often use more meat and be less salty.
So although it may take a bit of extra care and consideration, if you are really dedicated to ensuring your BBQ is low in salt, you may have to shop around for better quality sausages that are contain more meat than fat.
“This information may be on the label [of the sausage packet]. For example, it might say that the sausages use ’50 or 60 per cent meat’,” says Austin.
The other way to work out how much meat v fat is in a sausage is to read the nutritional panel on the back of a packet. “If a sausage contains more protein, it will most likely contain more meat. Look for sausages with a low saturated fat and sodium content too.”
How about organic sausages?
According to the research released by the George Institute for Global Health, the sausages containing the least amount of salt were organic (0.95g of salt per 100g).
Austin says that despite the label, organic sausages are not lower in salt because they are merely organic. “It’s because they are more expensive sausages to start with and there might be more meat in them.”
“Sausages are always going to have some salt in them. They are a salty product, but let’s look for a healthy choice variety if you are going to eat them.”
“If a sausage contains more protein, it will most likely contain more meat. Look for sausages with a low saturated fat and sodium content too.”
2. Try kangaroo sausages
“Kangaroo sausages are not fatty at all because kangaroos aren’t fatty,” says Austin. So generally, if there is less fat, then the chances are that kangaroo sausages may have less salt in them.
Woolworths sells kangaroo bush tomato sausages containing 80 per cent kangaroo meat inside the product.
“Kangaroo is a 100 per cent natural lean meat that sustainably and ethically sourced from the open range of Australia,” the supermarket’s website says about its kanga sausages. “Kangaroo meat is a versatile family-friendly meat that gets the thumbs up on a wide variety of nutrition fronts”.
“Kangaroo sausages are not fatty at all because kangaroos aren’t fatty."
3. Swap sausages for patties or other proteins
Your BBQ meal shouldn’t be all about sausages, says Austin.
“We shouldn’t be sitting down and eating a plate of four sausages anyway. So think about what other proteins you can cook on the BBQ to balance your meal.
“You might have one sausage and a few other protein-filled foods that are less salty. Try vegetarian patties or falafels, or fish, lean chicken or prawns. Or have a low-fat beef mince patty.”
4. Swap a sea of brown on the barbie for a rainbow of foods
“Make your BBQ look like a rainbow. It doesn’t have to be a sea of brown meats."
Cut back on the sausage provision and grill some tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, capsicums and other vegetables to create a healthier, more nutritionally-rounded BBQ.
5. Dig into BBQ corn instead of salty sausages
If barbecued corn-cobs are good enough for festivals and market stalls, they should be good enough for your backyard BBQ.
Serve your corn with or without a skewer. Add extra taste to your warm grilled cob by dressing it with herbs.
6. Ditch the bread or use a wholegrain low-salt option
This nutritional swap isn’t rocket science but it is important.
For years, we’ve been told that white bread is not very good for us adults and that it is high in salt.
Then last year, The George Institute for Global Health released a study showing that some flat breads (like roti and wraps) contain a third more salt than white bread, on average. The study also listed rye, multigrain and sourdough varieties among the top five saltiest breads analysed.
So if you prefer to ditch the bread, go ahead. If not and you have control over your bread choice, have a look at the nutritional panel to ensure the bread that you select is low in sodium, as there are some good options around.
7. Replace tomato sauce with a healthy, herby or exotic topping
If you have tomato sauce on your sanga to improve the taste, then how about adding flavour in a different way? Put the tomato sauce to one side and add chopped up chives, lettuce, grated carrot or spring onion to your sandwich instead. Hummus or tzatziki may also add an extra zing to your sanga.
Otherwise, opt for a low in salt variety of tomato sauce. Or, make your own relish. “You can control how much salt goes into relish if you make it yourself.”
8. Swap hummus for margarine
Of course you can totally forgo butter or margarine on your bread. But if this task proves difficult for you, Austin advises to moisten your bread with a healthier, less salty option.
“Try putting hummus on your bread instead of butter or margarine. Or try, avocado, fresh tomato slices, beetroot or tzatziki.
“Extra virgin olive oil can also be used to moisten the bread.”
9. Make your own sausages
Who wants store-bought sausages when you can impress your BBQ guests with the homemade variety that you created yourself. That way, you can control the ingredients.
Get as creative as you like with the stuffing. Austin suggests using zucchini or carrot in your filling.
“Salt is all about flavour so if you make your own sausages, add herbs like chives, parsley, coriander or chilli instead of salt.”
Making your own mustard is a cinch, and it can produce some incredible results. For a party platter with big impact, simply buy some good-quality sausages and a few accoutrements and serve it with your very own homemade mustard.
This beloved African staple of blood sausage is the equivalent of bangers 'n' mash. Pap is similar to polenta but made from ground maize, while sheba is a rich tomato and onion-based sauce.