A Better Barbecue: 10 Tips to Grilling Healthier Meals

Summer means evenings by the pool, family picnics, time on the boat and, perhaps most importantly, it’s barbecue season!

Barbecuing can be fun when holding neighborhood parties or family reunions, but the food we choose to barbecue can either be a help or a hindrance to our diets. If you are interested in grilling your food while still maintaining your fitness regime, read up on these 10 tips on how to grill a better barbecue, courtesy of Meghan Daw, RD, LDN at Eurest Services:

  1. Choose lean cuts of meat to grill. Choose from a variety of poultry with the skin pulled off, fish and well-trimmed lean cuts of beef, lamb and pork. Look for cuts of meat with the term “round” or “loin” in the title. These are leaner cuts of meat that are great for grilling.
  2. Don’t forget your grill basket. Grill baskets are a great way to grill your favorite vegetables or fruits. A grill basket prevents more delicate foods from crumbling when being turned over or falling through the grill grates.
  3. Choose meatier types of fish to grill. When grilling seafood or fish, choose meatier types of fish such as salmon, shrimp, mahi mahi or tuna.
  4. Marinate or oil fish before grilling. Marinate or slightly oil fish prior to putting it on the grill. This will prevent the fish from drying out or sticking on the grill.
  5. Soak wooden skewers before grilling. Make sure to soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes prior to using them. This will prevent skewers from burning. Metal skewers can be re-used and don’t need to be soaked.
  6. Make kabobs. Kabobs are a great way to incorporate vegetables and fruit into your grilled meal. By cutting meat, vegetables and fruit into smaller pieces you reduce your grilling time and the chance of charring your meal.
  7. Clean your grill. Always clean your grill after each use. Using a wire grill brush to clean the grill will help eliminate possible cross-contamination as well as prevent the grizzle from catching fire and burning your meal. It is easiest to clean the grill when still hot (but be careful!).
  8. Don’t char meat. Crispy charred meat may taste good but may not be good for your health. Potentially cancer-causing chemicals (HCAs and PAHs) can be formed when meat is cooked at a very high temperature over an open flame. Bottom line: don’t overcook your favorite grilled meals.
  9. Flip your burgers often. Flipping burgers often lowers the chance of charring your meat and the potential for eating potentially cancer-causing chemicals found in charred meat. Good rule of thumb: flip your burgers every 2-3 minutes.
  10. Don’t use cooking spray after the grill is hot. Olive oil or Canola oil cooking spray is a great way to reduce the caloric and fat intake of your meals as well as keep your food from sticking to the grill. However, if you use the spray when the grill is hot the spray may cause the flames to leap up and burn you or your food (so, again, be careful!).

Next time you decide to have a backyard barbecue with friends and family, you’ll know exactly what to do to save you and your loved ones a lot of calories! Happy grilling!

For more tips on healthy cooking and recipes, check out these blogs:

Photo Credit: Christopher Aloi

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