Check out some tips and hacks for healthful summer grilling!
Is it really summer if there isn't some grilling involved? Enjoying the outdoors with some delicious grilled food at backyard BBQs and cookouts are all part of the summer experience. If you're working on eating healthier this summer, you'll be happy to know that you don't have to give up on grilled food. Grilling can actually be a great way to incorporate food choices that are both nourishing and pleasurable. Check out my tips below to learn safe grilling practices as well as some healthy eating hacks and tips to up your grilling game this summer!
Choose Healthy Protein Sources
Fatty fish like salmon, skinless poultry, 90% lean ground beef patties , top loin, tenderloin, flank steak and trimmed cuts of veal can be great lean protein choices to choose from. Adding plant-based protein options like marinated tofu, tempeh and burger patties made with hearty pulses like black beans or lentils can also be nutritious additions your grill. If you're grilling fish, placing it on a bed of citrus fruit like lemons, can help prevent it from sticking onto the grill surface and breaking apart.
Flavor Your Protein With Acidic and Herb-Filled Marinades
Marinades made with oils, spices, herbs and acids like vinegar and citrus are a great way to pack on flavor without adding salt. Soaking meat proteins in acidic and herb-filled marinades can also help reduce the formation of Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PHCs) while grilling which have been associated with cancer risk. You can get creative with your marinades by combining a variety of flavorful ingredients like fresh lemon juice, yogurt, garlic, spices and herbs like rosemary, basil or thyme. Make sure to avoid cross-contamination by separating marinades that will be used on raw items vs cooked to reduce foodborne illness risk.
Check out my delicious Chicken Tikka and Veggie Skewers that can be a perfect grill item. The recipe includes a creamy marinade made with South Asian spices, ginger, garlic, cilantro, lime juice and yogurt.
Add Color To Your Grill With Fresh Fruits & Veggies
Including fruits and veggies to your grill menu not only adds color but also provides a dose of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. Grilling produce takes minimal time and enhances their unique flavor while also adding some smokiness. Vegetables that are a great pick to grill include portabello mushrooms, eggplant, asparagus, summer squash, bell peppers, zucchini and onions. Root veggies like potatoes and carrots can also be a great pick but take a bit longer to cook. Adding a gentle coating of olive or avocado oil to the veggies can help prevent them from sticking onto the grill. Grilling fruit like pineapple, apples, peaches and watermelon brings out their natural sweetness even more since the sugars caramelize in the heat. My favorite way to enjoy produce is to make colorful grilled vegetable or fruit kebabs.
Incorporate Whole Grains
Whole grains can add texture, fiber and a flavor to your everyday BBQ menu items. For example, if you are cooking up some burgers, swap the white buns with a whole grain option. You can also make the popular BBQ side dish, pasta salad with whole grain pasta or swap 1/2 of the regular pasta with some whole grain pasta. Tossing quinoa into chopped salads can also be a great way to incorporate some hearty whole grains.
Practice Safe Grilling Skills
Practicing safe grilling skills like cooking meat to the appropriate internal temperature using a food thermometer and avoiding prolonged high cooking temperatures can be a good idea. You can cut grilling time down by pre-cooking the meat a bit on the stove or microwave at home or cutting the meat into smaller pieces. Another plus can be to avoid pressing the meat on the grill to release the juices that drip onto the flame as well as flipping the meat frequently. These practices may help prevent the formation of HCAs and PHCs while grilling.
Safe Minimal Food Temperatures to Prevent Foodborne Illness:
Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of meat.
Fish: 145° F or until it is opaque
Meat like steak or chops: at least 145° F
Burger patties made from beef: at least 160° F
Poultry: at least 165° F
Hungry for more information ? Check out my previous posts below!