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Grilling can be healthy or throw your calories off the rails! Traditional favorites like burgers and potato salad are often accompanied by high calorie condiments which can rack up the calories quickly! However, when done properly grilling can hence the flavors of produce, rubs, spices, and all sorts of healthy proteins!
Below are 6 tips for healthy grilling!
Choose Lean Cuts of Protein!
Look for lean cuts such as flank steak, 90% lean ground beef, skinless chicken thighs, chicken breast, shrimp and healthy fish! Avoid processed meats like hot dogs as they are usually higher sodium, higher fat and do not provide a good amount of protein.
Use Healthy Fats
Before grilling up any veggies or if you need to use any oils in a marinade, opt for extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. These oils are rich in monounsaturated fats which are good for heart health. Extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil also have a high smoking point temperature appropriate for grilling.
Make Your Own Marinades
High temperature grilling can produce carcinogens called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which may increase the risk of cancer. To prevent the production of HCAs, create your own healthy marinade using antioxidant rich spices such as black pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, garlic, onion or paprika. Mix it with balsamic vinegar, lemon or lime juice, a healthy oil, and even a drizzle of honey for a flavorful, healthy and homemade marinade. Keep in mind, though these are very healthy, the antioxidants can decompose over time and so marinating time should be limited.
Use Quality Condiments
Avoid unnecessary high calorie condiments such as mayo and sour cream. Even be careful with condiments considered healthy because they contain healthy fats, such as avocado or cheeses as their calories still add up! Instead swap mayo and sour cream for nonfat Greek yogurt, in potato salad, cole slaw, dips and creamy dressings.
Grill up Greens!
Seasonal produce like zucchini, summer squash, asparagus, peppers and many other veggies are packed with a variety of B vitamins, vitamin C antioxidants, and are so quick, easy and make a great side dish. Squeeze lemon juice and sprinkle some salt, pepper, and fresh herbs and your meal will be elevated instantly!
Fire Up the Fruit!
Grilling fruit helps bring out the natural sugars making it sweet yet the perfect low calorie dessert! Fruits like peaches, pineapple, watermelon and pears become more flavorful. All you have to do is brush them with a little oil and place them face-down on the grill.
Portion Sized Plate
Be mindful when plating your food. Use a quarter of your plate for protein, half the plate for a non-starchy vegetables like cole slaw, broccoli salad, grilled squash or other veggies and salads. The last quarter of your plate can be used for starches like whole grain salads or bread, potatoes, or corn on the cob. Including a generous amount of vegetables ensures you will be getting plenty of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients all while staying on track with your goals!