|Teryaki glazed chicken, grilled pineapple, asparagus, and watermelon|
Nothing says summer like the smell of grilling out in the backyard! Summer cookouts provide a great opportunity to visit and impress friends and family with your skills at the grill. For your health's sake, be choosy about what you put on the grill. Steaks, hamburgers, and hotdogs can be loaded with calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol! This summer, add variety and healthy options to any cookout by grilling fruits and vegetables.
Grilling Fruits and Vegetables:
• Cooking vegetables right on the grill adds flavor to any meal. Baste firm vegetables like peppers, corn, eggplant or onions. Season them with herbs and place on a hot grill until they are tender and brown—usually about 10 to 15 minutes.
• Place sliced zucchini, tomatoes and carrots on heavy-duty foil and sprinkle with a olive or canola oil and seasoning. Wrap the foil and grill 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Minced garlic works great and also pick up an oil mister from Williams Sonoma to control calories.
• Make kabobs out of pineapples, peaches and bananas and grill on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden.
• Grill asparagus, green beans, or broccoli and add, sprits of olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and freshly cracked pepper for a delicious side dish.
• Use black beans and add to avocado, corn, red pepper, green pepper, Poblano peppers, lime juice, cumin, minced garlic, fresh ground black pepper, Tabasco sauce, tomatoes and use as an excellent dip for a party or serve over grilled chicken or fish (always a crowd favorite).
• Make a quick and easy Summer side salad with Spinach, grilled chicken or salmon, sliced onions, strawberries, blueberries, apples, walnuts, and reduced fat gorgonzola cheese with balsamic vinaigrette.
Another great reason to add fruits and vegetables to your outdoor cooking repertoire: With the abundance of produce available this time of year, it’s easy to eat your recommended 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables a day for optimal health. Remember: In order to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, your grocery cart must be filled with half fruits and vegetables from the produce section.
Follow these tips when deciding what foods to include for the celebration:
• "Prime" cuts usually have more fat than "choice" or "select." Choose lean cuts of meat such as sirloin, ground round, etc.
• Look for ground beef with the lowest percentage of fat on the label. Try to choose 4% fat or lower.
• Grill lean turkey dogs, chicken sausages, buffalo burgers or veggie burgers in place of full-fat options, but make sure to compare the fat on the back of the nutrition facts label as marketing will fool you on many of the hot dog nutrient comparisons.
• Instead of fatty steaks, ribs, and chicken wings, try skinless boneless chicken breast or kabobs, and grilled fish such as salmon, halibut or shrimp
• When purchasing ground turkey, make sure to choose ground turkey breast as it will save you calories and saturated fat (the naughty artery clogging fat)
• Buy skinless, boneless, chicken breast without any added flavorings and use your own marinade to add flavor and decrease sodium.
• Instead of sautéed onions, put onions on the grill for great smoky flavor
• Go meatless and grill portabella mushroom burgers or black bean burgers, check out meatlessmeals.com
• Choose Healthy burger toppings such as grilled veggies, caramelized onions, spinach lettuce, tomatoes, pickes, spicy brown mustard, avocado, ketchup, portabella mushrooms, and laughing cow cheese wedges
• Use whole wheat buns or sandwich thins to increase your daily fiber intake from whole grains.
For side dishes, there are great tasting alternatives to heavy, mayonnaise salads and spreads. If a recipe calls for full-fat mayonnaise or sour cream, substitute a low-fat variation or you can use nonfat- plain Greek yogurt. I am personally a fan of Chobani or Fage. Greek yogurt can be used as a perfect substitute for mayo, sour cream, cream cheese, etc.. The tart flavor of non-fat plain Greek yogurt has double the protein of regular yogurt and less sugar. Your potato salads, chicken salads and baked potatoes won't know the difference.