Ah, Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer! And nothing says summer like outdoor cooking. Cooking food outside on the grill is an easy, fun and healthy way to spice things up at mealtime. But before you dust off your iron beast and get to the great eating, check out these tips to stay healthy (and satisfied!) while you enjoy your holiday weekend.
1. Choose Your Protein Wisely
First things first. When shopping for your grill grub, make sure to compare the nutritional options of various meats. Choose the leaner cuts of meat; turkey dogs and extra lean ground beef are great options. (For the healthiest burger option, use ground bison or ground turkey breast or choose an omega-3 rich piece of fish instead of red meat.
2. Trim Your Meat & Marinate
The extra fat on your cuts of meat can add many unwanted or calories and loads of saturated fat. You can avoid this by trimming down everything before you grill. When it comes to chicken HALF of the saturated fat is in the skin (as in, lose the skin and lose half the fat and up to one-third of the calories). Many fear that cooking chicken without the skin will dry it out. Simple solution: marinate the chicken for at least an hour before cooking and don’t overcook. (Use a marinade-needle to inject your meat with flavoring before cooking. This will ensure the flavor is evenly distributed throughout the meat. You’ll definitely taste the difference!)
3. Substitute Your Sauces (think colorful, not creamy)
When choosing marinades for your meats and veggies, choose herbs, citrus and healthy oils. This will keep your dinner juicy and full of flavor without adding extra calories. To help minimize the fat, encourage the motto: can the creamy (anything mayonnaise based) take the tangy (mustard, salsa, Worcestershire sauce, etc.). Substitute the mayo in your potato salad with low- or non-fat yogurt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, it will cut your fat intake and still be full-of-flavor.
4. Ban the Butter
Enjoy the natural grilled flavor of your meats and vegetables and nix the unwanted health-risks and cholesterol of butter. Instead, use heart-healthy olive oil or canola oil as a substitute. A great way to use more olive oil in your cooking is to have a small pump spray bottle full of olive oil next to your stove or grill.
5. Veg Out
Be sure to add some easy to grill vegetables to your BBQ. Think in color with your sides and experiment a bit; mushrooms, squash, peppers, eggplant, asparagus and onions are all excellent choices. To keep veggies juicy on the grill, marinate, marinate, marinate (at least an hour). Don’t have that kind of time? Toss your vegetables in olive oil and wrap in a tinfoil pouch. Toss on the grill until done.
6. Ditch the Traditional Desserts
Satisfy your sweet tooth with a healthy alternative to ice cream and cake. Grill your fruit for dessert! Grilled pineapple, pears, peaches and mango are amazing!
Have a great weekend and don’t forget to clean your grill!