Give your stove and microwave a much-needed vacation and get grilling! Whether you have an outdoor grill or condo rules make the great indoors your only way of making grill marks, build yourself a better barbecue this year with the healthy tips and tricks below:
Four out of 5 people say burgers are their favorite grilled food. Typical burgers made of ground beef can average 300 calories and nine grams of artery-clogging saturated fat per one four-ounce burger. Here are options that are lower in calories and saturated fat: Lean Beef Burger (93/7): 170 calories, 3g saturated fat Turkey Burger (95/5): 180 calories, 2g saturated fat Salmon Burger: 110 calories, 0.5g saturated fat Veggie Burger: 110 calories, 0.5g saturated fat Portobello Caps: 40 calories, 0g saturated fat
- Read bun labels for the word "whole" since whole grain versions provide more fiber, vitamin E and healthy minerals, such as zinc and magnesium, than white, processed ones. - Try whole grain pitas or English muffins as an alternative since they are fewer calories than bulky buns.
- Ketchup contains lycopene, a natural cancer fighter. Choose organic options without high fructose corn syrup. - Mustard is not only low in calories, but also contains mustard seeds, which help reduce inflammation (this is good for achy joints and heart health). - BBQ sauce adds great flavor, but be sure to buy brands with tomatoes, not sugar or high fructose corn syrup, as the first ingredient.
Even though burgers are the most popular BBQ food, here's a list of other healthy proteins to put on the barbie: Salmon Filet (4oz): 160 calories, 1g saturated fat Chicken Breast (4oz): 135 calories, 0.5g saturated fat Chicken Sausage (2.5oz link): 130 calories, 2g saturated fat Tofu Cutlet (4oz): 110 calories, 1g satuated fat Shrimp (14 medium, 3oz): 60 calories, 0g saturated fat Scallops (10 medium, 3oz): 60 calories, 0g saturated fat
The bad news: Grilling and charring meats can produce compounds called Heterocyclic Amines (HCA), which some studies have linked to cancer. The good news: Marinating for 30 to 60 minutes will help decrease dangerous HCA compounds by more than 80 percent. The best marinades contain three things: 1) oil, 2) acid such as vinegar or citrus, 3) dried herbs. Here's a Universal Marinade recipe for one pound of your favorite fish, chicken, beef and even veggies and tofu: 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (good grilling oil since it can handle high temperatures) 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced 1 Tablespoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Whether you are a grill novice or a seasoned veteran, use a thermometer to determine when it's time to take your grilled goodies off the burner. Cooking to the right temperature ensures you aren't over or undercooking your food and that means you'll have both optimal juiciness and safety. Stick a thermometer in the thickest part of the food and you know it's done perfectly when it hits the following proper temperatures: 145 degrees F for fish 160 degrees F for hamburgers & medium-steaks 165 degrees F for chicken breasts
Vegetables and fruits are low in calories and high in nutrition. Aim to have 50 percent of your grill loaded with veggies, while the other half is cooking your favorite lean meats, poultry or fish. Grilling brings out natural sweetness of fruit, so they become a natural sweet treat to end a summer meal. Here are some of my favorite grilled produce ideas: - Vegetable kebobs (mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, zucchini) - Whole carrots - Heads of broccoli - Spears of asparagus - Fruits such as pineapple, strawberries, bananas, peaches, plums and even watermelon.
Get Grill Gadgets - Take the guesswork out of grilling by using a Cuisinart Digital Grill Thermometer with a color changing display (Bed Bath & Beyond, $29.99). With this thermometer, you can set your desired temperature and an alarm will sound when your food is ready! - Get a grip on flipping delicate fish and produce with a Stainless Steel Flexible Grill Basket (Crate & Barrel, $14.95). It is also a master at managing small items like calamari, potatoes and cherry tomatoes -- preventing your food from falling through the cracks. -Go beyond burgers and become a global grilling gourmet with the help of a Stainless Steel Grill Basket/Wok for grilled Asian stir-frys and Pizza Grilling Stone for perfectly grilled Italian pizza pies (Crate & Barrel, $19.95 and $36.95). - Indoor grills and grill pans can do the trick if outdoor grilling is not an option. Try a grill pan made out of cast iron to transform your stovetop into a grill (Sur La Table, Lodge Lodgic $59.95 or Le Creuset $169.95).
Follow Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, CSSD, LDN on Twitter: www.twitter.com/djblatner