Fire up the flavor this summer |

Fire up the flavor this summer

Reanna Moore
Staff Photo |

The weather is warming up, summer is almost here, and that means spending more time outdoors and enjoying activities and meals with friends and family.

Grilling can be a great way to prepare fresh and delicious food for an entire gathering. Traditional barbecue favorites include hot dogs, chicken and hamburgers … which can unfortunately mean extra calories, saturated fat and cholesterol.

The good news is that when it comes to barbecue, there is plenty of opportunity for creativity. Grilling up vegetables and fruits can make a great side dish, or even the main attraction for a delicious meal. Not only are fruits and vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals, they can also reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity and cancer. This summer, think outside of the box and choose healthy, inventive options for your next grilling adventure.

Here are some tips for preparing quick, delicious and healthful foods on the grill:

Trim the fat. Choose lean cuts of beef (top sirloin), pork (tenderloin) or try turkey burgers, which can be 99 percent fat free. Remove the skin from chicken breasts, and trim the fat from steaks before you prepare them for grilling. Swap the red meat for fish, which is high in omega-3s. To help prevent food poisoning, remember to use a food thermometer appropriate for the type of meat that you are grilling — it should be stainless steel with an easy-to-read dial and shatterproof lens.

Have fun with fruit. Pineapple slices, mango, apples and even pears are excellent fruits for grilling. Simply place the fruit over low heat on the grill until it is hot and golden. Dessert is served.

Vary the veggies. Add vitamins and minerals to your meal with vegetables cooked on the grill. Make a vegetable kabob with onions, mushrooms and peppers; drizzle with a bit of olive oil; and season with herbs. Corn, asparagus and eggplant also are flavorful vegetables to try out on the grill. Use aluminum foil or a grill basket to keep vegetables from falling through the grill.

What about charring? Charring can result from cooking meats at a high temperature, and recent studies have suggested a link between cancer and charred meats and fish. To prevent charring, remove fatty area’s before cooking, flip foods frequently, make sure hot coals are not directly below the meat, and avoid grilling meats until they are very well-done or burnt.

Get saucy. The right sauce can add plenty of flavor to meats and vegetables without the extra calories and fat. Some flavorful ideas include: wine, vinegar, lemon or lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, or chili sauce. Place in a resealable bag and let marinate for at least one to two hours for meat and poultry, and one hour for vegetables.

Reanna Moore is a clinical dietitian at Grand River Health.

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