With the summer season officially here, it’s time to break out the barbecue! It’s too hot to be cooking indoors on most days, and the grill is a great option for moving the kitchen outside. However, if you’re worried that grilled food means eating lots of unhealthy fats in the way of cheeseburgers and brats, then it’s time to rethink your summer menu.
When you’re not charring your food, which some research shows can lead to carcinogens, grilling can be a healthy alternative to pan-frying. The food no longer sits in its own fats, and instead drips off, making for leaner eats. Plus, grilling is easy and offers a wide variety of flavors and healthy options. Try the following next time you’re ready to light up the barbie.
Pick Produce: While you might typically think of grilling meats, vegetables taste great when roasted over an open flame. Place whole bell peppers over low heat, or dice up zucchini, eggplants and onions for a perfect side. You can even make a grilled salad. Slice a head of romaine lettuce in half lengthwise. Lightly spray with a cooking oil and place on the grill. Cook over low heat for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and lightly dress with a mixture of olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, and pepper.
Stay Lean: Instead of always searing up fattier cuts of meat, choose healthier alternatives instead. There are lots of turkey- and chicken-based sausages, brats, and burger patties that are awesome for summer appetites. And of course, don’t forget how super seafood can taste when grilled. Season and skewer shrimp and grill until opaque. Serve it with warm corn tortillas, a jalapeno slaw, and some fresh cilantro for summer fish tacos that are sure to please.
Flavor Saver: Repetitively grilling the same foods can get boring. If you want to breathe new life into your barbecued chicken breasts, mix it up with marinades. You’ll be amazed at how different a meal can be when you add in honey, vinegars, soy sauce, lemon, herbs, and other seasonings. Marinades can be purchased from the store, but you can just as easily whip up something from your pantry–plus a DIY version can avoid a lot of unnecessary sugars and corn syrups. Bonus! Combine teriyaki sauce, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, a touch of sesame oil, and chili flakes for an amazing Asian marinade. Let meat rest in the mixture for at least 30 minutes, and toss any leftover marinade when finished to avoid cross contamination.
Do Dessert: Instead of always grilling up savories, try something sweet for a treat. Grilled fruits taste fantastic fresh off the barbecue–and they are so simple! Sliced pineapples, stuffed banana peels with mix-ins, and halved peaches and nectarines are just a few to try. You can even get a little fancy by skewering chunks of watermelon, mango, melon, strawberries, and kiwi to serve with a yogurt dipping sauce.
Grilling is great because it means you can cook healthy without having to skimp on flavor. Now that you’re fired up to gas up the grill, what are you going to make? Share with us in the comments!