Grilling has always been one of the best things about summer. It is also one of the healthier ways to cook foods. Grilling requires no added fats and results in moist and tasty meats and even other foods like vegetables.
Seasonings and portion sizes are two main things to consider when grilling this summer. Many Americans end up eating high-fat meats when they fire up the grill. Look for leaner meats such as loin cuts, lean ground meats, chicken breast or fish when meal planning. These are all better choices than meats like brats, hot dogs, or fatty cuts of meat like ribs or ribeye. And remember to keep your portions in check! The appropriate portion size for most meats is close to the size of a deck of cards. Balance your meat with healthy sides or cook things like kabobs to balance your plate.
Another thing to consider is the potentially cancer-causing compounds such as PAHs and HCAs. These compounds occur when the fat from the meat hits of the flames resulting in the charring on meat. Limit intake of charred meats.
However, more often grilling is one of the best cooking choices. Here are some keys to healthy grilling.
- Try grilling more fruits and vegetables. Some tasty fruit and vegetables on the grill include tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, eggplant, asparagus, corn on the cob, pineapple, mushrooms, mango and pears. (see recipe below)
- Marinate the healthy way. Wines, vinegars, lemon or lime juice, honey, garlic, onion, herbs or low sodium soy sauce are all fairly healthy and tasty options. Using healthy fats such as olive or canola oil are better for sautéing. Avoid seasonings that have a lot of salt in them- there are plenty of good seasonings that are salt free!
- Practice food safety. Never thaw meat on the counter top. Thaw in fridge overnight, in cold water or in microwave. Avoid cross-contaminating by separating raw meat utensils and plates from the cooked meats. Never reuse marinate that was used on raw meat. Finally, be sure you cook your meat to the proper temperature when grilling.
Grilling is also be an easy way to meal prep for the week. Having some extra meat such as chicken breast or lean beef patties in the fridge makes for some easier meals on those busy nights and cuts back on eating out or eating from the concession stand at all the ballgames this time of year.
Overall, grilling is a great option to make some delicious and healthy meals this summer. If you’re looking for new recipes, check out the ones listed below.
Enjoy the summer!
Jennifer Lincecum RDN, LD
Grilled vegetables- Serves 6
2 yellow squash, sliced
2 Zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium orange, red, and green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced sweet onion
1 cup sliced Portobello mushrooms
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp garlic and herb seasoning- such as Mrs Dash
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Combine vegetables in large bowl and toss with seasonings 3 Tbsp olive oil. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in grill safe pan and grill veggies. Stir continuously for about 8-10 minutes.
Low Sodium Steak Rub-serves 10
1 tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp dill seed
¼ tsp celery seed
Mix well and rub generously on steak or chops
Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad- serves 4
½ cup teriyaki sauce
4 boneless chicken breasts
8 cups chopped romaine
½ cup cherry tomatoes
¼ cup red onion, sliced
2 avocados sliced
1 15oz pineapple rings or fresh sliced pineapple
Combine chicken, ½ cup teriyaki, and half of pineapple juice from canned pineapple slices in a large bag and chill for 15 minutes. Grease and preheat the grills. Place chicken on grill and pineapple rings. Grill pineapple till just hot and tender. Grill chicken on 6-10 minutes on each side. Transfer to cutting board and slice chicken.
Assemble salads with chopped lettuce, and top with chicken, tomatoes, onions, avocao slices, grilled pineapple and cilantro.
Dressing option: ½ cup teriyaki sauce, 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil and ½ c pineapple juice from can.