Grilling Tips for Fun and Healthy Summer Cookouts

Healthy Grilling

Grilling is an excellent way to get outside and enjoy summer while making tasty food for the whole family. Summer this year might feel a little different given the current pandemic, but a backyard BBQ or small family cookout can help you pass the time and feel less cooped up.

Summer Grilling Tips

Stock up on Lean Meats and Produce

The beautiful thing about grilling is that it’s so versatile! Your favorite fruits and vegetables can be thrown on the grill and transformed into an entirely new dish. Many people enjoy grilled peaches, mangoes, pineapple, melon, cabbage “steaks,” bell peppers, portabella mushrooms, squash, zucchini, tomatoes and purple or Vidalia onions.

If you want the extra protein from grilling meat, try to opt for leaner cuts. Good choices include poultry (white meat chicken or turkey), veal, fish and seafood. If you want beef, some of the leaner cuts include flank stank, top loin, sirloin or 90% lean ground beef.

Make Your Own Rubs and Marinades

Rubs and marinades are a great way to pack in extra flavor with grilled dishes. Instead of relying on salt, use some of your other favorite spices and herbs. All you need is about half a cup of marinade or 1 tablespoon of spice rub for each pound of food.

Some great herbs and spices include:

  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Rosemary or sage
  • Cumin
  • Black pepper

Be Cautious with Your Fats

Unnecessary fats add extra calories and cholesterol. When grilling, try opting for skinless meats or remove the skin before cooking. You can also use healthy cooking oils (olive, avocado, etc.) to brush or marinate food. While your food is cooking, another good way to cut back on fat is to let it drip off the food during the grilling process. Just make sure you clean your grill afterwards.

Cut Back on Sauces and Condiments

“Keeping it simple” doesn’t mean your food will come out tasteless. You don’t always need heavy sauces, dressings or condiments. You can get great flavor by soaking your food in light marinades and using different seasonings. Sometimes, a simple squeeze of lime or lemon is enough to transform your grilled masterpiece and delight your taste buds.

Lighten up Buns and Side Dishes

You can cut back on calories and additives by choosing whole grain sandwich or hot dog buns. Or, skip the bun altogether and go bun-less with a lettuce wrap or portabella burger patty.

Instead of heavy sides like French fries or potato salad, try these healthier alternatives:

  • Colorful fruit salad or leafy green salad
  • Smoky corn and avocado salad
  • Grilled vegetables with Balsamic vinegar and Feta cheese
  • Baked sweet potato fries with sprinkled paprika
  • Broccoli salad with creamy Greek yogurt dressing

Ready to serve up some tasty dishes? Try some of the ones suggested by the Obesity Action Coalition in this blog post about tasty summer grilling recipes.

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