Time to Get Your Grill On!

Outdoor cooking tips for the summertime or any time.

Lara Rondinelli By Lara Rondinelli, RD, LDN, CDE

Summer is the perfect season to fire up the grill with some of your favorite foods. Grilling is a preferred healthy cooking method because it does not require any additional fat such as oil or butter, and it actually allows the fat to drip away from the food, creating a leaner product. However, you are still left with great-tasting, bold-flavored, barbequed food. Here are some great grilling tips to help you get started:

1. Choose Lean Meats. Chicken breasts, fish, pork chops, turkey sausage, and turkey burgers are great lean protein sources that taste great grilled. You can add extra flavor by using different seasonings, rubs, or marinades.

2. Use Rubs, Herbs, and Marinades to Add Flavor. Rubs can be a great way to maximize flavor without added fat. Rubs are a combination of different herbs or spices, such as chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper. Rubs come in two forms, either dry or wet. A dry rub is a combination of ground spices and herbs. To use a dry rub, spread thickly over the meat and rub into the surface. Wet rubs are dry rubs that are bound by a liquid, such as olive or canola oil. Because they cannot be applied as thickly, the wet rubs have a milder flavor than the dry rubs; this makes them good on delicate fish or poultry. After the rub is applied, the meat is then grilled and all the spices cook into the meat for a bold flavor. Marinades can also be a great way to moisten and flavor meats. Marinades are a seasoned liquid that contains a tenderizing ingredient such as vinegar, wine, soy sauce, or citrus juice, like lemon or orange juice. They work great on lean meats, such as chicken breast, to prevent dryness and create a moist product. Just make sure to use a small amount of oil in the marinade to eliminate added fat. Lemon juice or white-wine vinegar mixed with a small amount of olive oil, crushed garlic, black pepper, and oregano can make a quick marinade. Allow the meat or vegetables to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes.

3. Grilling Isn't Only For Meats. Experiment with gilled fruit and vegetables. Americans are not eating enough fruit and vegetables every day and grilling can put a new twist on these foods and create a unique flavor. For example, grilled asparagus drizzled with a small amount of olive oil and garlic powder can be a quick and tasty side dish. You can use a basket or grill screen to keep smaller foods from slipping through the rack or wrap veggies in aluminum foil. Grilled fruit is one of the most hidden desserts. Some people are unsure how to grill fruit, but it really couldn't be easier. Take an apple, peach, plum, or banana and cut it in half. Brush fruit lightly with trans-fat free margarine and sprinkle with sugar substitute and cinnamon. Fruit can be placed directly on grill rack or put on skewers and then grilled. Grilling brings out the natural sweetness in the fruit and it can taste great alone or is wonderful served over light/sugar-free ice cream or with a yogurt dipping sauce.

4. Grilling Can Be Done Anytime of Year. I have met a handful of people who grill outdoors year round; in the winter they put on their hat, scarf, and gloves and fire up the grill. For many of us, this is unrealistic, but this does not mean we have to give up our favorite grilled foods in November. There are indoor grill options, such as a grill pan, that can be placed directly on your stovetop over medium heat until very hot. Food is then grilled directly on the pan and many people would never know that it wasn't grilled on the traditional outdoor grill.

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Last Modified Date: June 17, 2013

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