How to Make Grilling a Healthy Summertime Tradition

Grilling, health summer grilled foods

Summer is the season for grilling! It’s time to get your loved ones together, clean up the picnic table and fire up the grill. Grilling your food can bring out unique, smoky flavors and crisp textures that you don’t get with other cooking styles. Although we typically think of hotdogs, burgers and BBQ chicken as usual grill fare, there are a number of ways to make grilling a healthy summertime tradition among your family and friends.

Healthy Summer Grilling Tips

Content inspired by Heart.org 

Pick Lean Proteins

Consider cooking lean proteins like fish, skinless chicken breast and lean ground poultry. Red meat, like you would find in steak and beef-based burgers, has more saturated fat. If you choose beef, pork or another fattier protein, get “loin” or “round” cuts and “choice” or “select” grades instead of prime. A few vegetarian options for healthy grilling include tofu, tempeh, paneer, bean burgers, portabella mushrooms and quesadillas.

Use Spices and Marinades for Flavor

Rather than drowning your grilled dish in sugary sauces and condiments, make clever use of spices, seasonings and marinades. Chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon and rosemary are all popular in rubs. Marinades are more wet, usually vinegar-based or made with dressing, allowing your food to soak before being thrown on the grill for incredible flavor.

Choose Healthier Sides

Instead of always opting for salty French fries, sugary baked beans, potato chips or potato salad, add more nutrient-dense side dishes to your grill fare. Try a colorful fruit salad, bean salad or grilled fruit. Here are a couple of fruits and vegetables that are surprisingly delicious on the grill:

  • Fruits: Watermelon, pineapple, mangoes, peaches, pears, figs, bananas
  • Vegetables: Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sweet tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers (all colors), portabella mushrooms

Upgrade Your Bun

If you’re grilling burgers, hot dogs or another sandwich-style food, buy whole grain buns for extra fiber, flavor and texture. If you want to cut back on carbs or calories, try a lettuce bun/wrap or an open-faced sandwich.

Keep Your Portions in Check

A healthy portion size of any meat is about three ounces, or the size of your fist. Any more than six ounces is generally considered to be too much. Fill the rest of your plate with delicious colorful side dishes for protein and fiber.

More Reading

Do you want additional healthy grilling tips, fun summer recipes and more information on how to grill healthier? Click here for the full article from the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), Producer of the Your Weight Matters Campaign.

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