Follow these BBQ tips for delicious, healthy grilled meals all summer long

 

This guest post is from Katie Serbinski (formerly Caputo), a registered dietitian who blogs foodie-inspired recipes at ktcaputo.com and tweets healthy tips and tricks @katieserbinski. She works as a nutrition and health communications consultant for various food industry organizations and small businesses.

Nothing reminds me more of summer than hearing the grill sizzle. With the warmer weather comes my craving for a juicy burger off the grill. What most people don’t realize is that grilling is one of the healthiest ways to prepare foods — especially during the warm weather months. The food options for grilling are endless, and with some basic knowledge and a little experience, anyone can be an expert.

Here are some of my foolproof grilling tips for the novice to expert grillmaster:

Figure-Friendly Fare

Your diet does not necessarily need to go out the back door when it comes to summer grilling. Grilled meat tastes great simply seasoned with a little salt and pepper. To add extra flavor, try a rub or a homemade marinade, which typically has fewer calories than sauces or condiments. Make your own rubs with a variety of seasonings, spices, and dried herbs. Use sugar sparingly in rubs because it burns easily when it comes in contact with high temperatures.

When making your own marinade, experiment with flavorful ingredients such as lemon juice, orange juice, citrus zest, and balsamic vinegar. To minimize the calories, brush the marinade onto your food near the end of cooking.

Grilled Fruits and Vegetables

It’s easy to find a tasty addition to your healthy grilling menu. Fruits and vegetables are DELICIOUS when grilled, so why not pair them alongside your favorite meats?

The flavor of fruits and vegetables are naturally intensified when grilled. Because a lot of the moisture evaporates from fruits and vegetables as they grill, the flavor becomes more concentrated and the sugars become more condensed, increasing their sweetness and flavor. Cut into pieces or grilled whole, fruits and vegetables are simple and satisfying addition to your grilling repertoire.

Check out these grilled fruit and vegetable recipes from Cooking Light online.

BBQ Dessert?!

Grilled fruit is a healthy and refreshing dessert alternative for summer barbeques. As I said above, grilling fruit causes its natural sugar to caramelize, intensifying the flavor. Use cut peaches, apples, or banana halves or whole fruit, such as strawberries, and brush lightly with olive oil or spray with a cooking spray. Top grilled fruit with a dollop of frozen yogurt or Greek-style yogurt, and you’ll have yourself a sweet ending to a great grilled meal.

Food Safety

Whether you are at the grill or in the kitchen, it’s important to remember to prepare, handle and store food properly to keep you and your family safe from food-borne illness. Always remember to keep your grill clean, use different platters for raw and cooked foods, and to have your food thermometer on hand so you can check the internal temperature of cooked meats. Use these simple guidelines to for grilling food safely.

The Grill Master

For technical grilling know-how, I suggest checking out GrillingTips.com. If you feel confident enough to tackle the grill, look no further than AllRecipes.com for a variety of grilling recipes. With a little help, you will have that grill conquered. So gather your friends and family around the grill and show ‘em what you got!

What recipe are you grilling up this holiday weekend?

Photo by jdavis

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on A Healthier Michigan in May 2012.

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  1. Grilled meat contains carcinogens so one should be careful about how often one eats grilled meat. Barbecus is not as bad as grilling in terms of carcinogens, but many barbecus sauces are unhealthy because they contain sugar or corn sweeteners.

  2. Great point Bruce. Cooking protein-rich foods like meat, poultry and fish at very high temperatures can create chemicals that some scientists hypothesize as being carcinogenic. To prevent this “charring” or chemical reaction in meat, it’s important to grill at medium temperature, and to trim any excess fat from the meat before grilling- which prevents excess smoke formation and fire flare-ups.

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