Hey Angels and Alphas,
Whether you’re grilling at a neighborhood barbecue or in your own backyard, it can be a challenge to keep your grilling sessions healthy. Traditional favorites like burgers and potato salad often come with high-fat condiments, and it’s easy to overindulge.
However, grilling provides a great opportunity to bring out the flavors of fresh produce and try new spice rubs and marinades. With the following registered dietitian-approved tricks, you can make your grilling healthier and more delicious.
Choose Lean Cuts of Meat
When shopping for meat, opt for lean cuts like flank steak and 90%-lean ground beef. Ground turkey is also a tasty and healthier choice. Be cautious with highly processed meats like hot dogs, as they tend to be high in sodium, which can increase the risk of high blood pressure.
Opt for Healthy Oils
Before grilling your veggies, brush them with heart-healthy cooking oils such as olive oil or avocado oil. These oils are rich in monounsaturated fats, which are better for your health compared to the saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil. Remember to use the oils in moderation to control calorie intake.
Make Your Own Marinades
Grilling at high temperatures can produce carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which may increase the risk of cancer. To reduce the production of HCAs, create your own marinades using black pepper and antioxidant-rich spices like oregano, basil, thyme, and garlic. Whisk together balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, fresh herbs, olive oil, and a drizzle of honey for a flavorful marinade. Avoid marinating meat for too long, as protective antioxidants can begin to decompose.
Mix in Quality Condiments
Creamy sauces like mayo and sour cream can add unnecessary calories and unhealthy fats to your dishes. Instead, try substituting half or all of the mayo or sour cream with high-protein, nonfat Greek yogurt in potato salad, coleslaw, and dips. For a healthier burger, consider replacing mayo with a slice of avocado. Avocado is rich in healthy fats and can help lower cholesterol levels.
Eat Your Greens
Make space on your grill for fresh, seasonal produce like zucchini, yellow squash, and summer squashes. These vegetables are rich in various B vitamins and vitamin C, and they make for quick and easy side dishes. Skewer the veggies or create single-serve grill packets. Squeeze some lemon juice and add salt, pepper, and chopped herbs like parsley, cilantro, mint, or chives for a colorful and elevated side dish.
Put Fruit Over the Fire
Grilling fruit is an easy and delicious way to make a healthy dessert. Fruits like peaches, pineapple, watermelon, and pears become even more flavorful when grilled. Brush a little cooking oil on the fruit or place fruit slices face-down on the grill for a naturally sweet treat that is lower in fat, calories, and added sugar compared to traditional desserts.
Portion Out Your Plate
Use your plate as a guide to ensure balanced portion sizes. Allocate a quarter of your plate for protein, such as a piece of meat or fish about the size of a deck of cards. Fill at least half of the plate with non-starchy vegetables like coleslaw, broccoli salad, or grilled squash. Reserve a quarter of the plate for starches like a whole-grain bun, potato salad, or corn on the cob. Including a generous portion of vegetables ensures an adequate intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients while keeping calories in check.
By incorporating these seven healthy grilling hacks into your routine, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious meals during your summer grilling sessions.
So fire up the grill, experiment with spices and marinades, and savor the taste of a healthier barbecue experience!