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7 Delicious Grilling Secrets

A backyard barbecue can be enjoyed even when you're following a healthy eating plan or trying to lose weight. Although BBQs may make you think of juicy hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage and ribs, there's no reason you have to prepare high-calorie, high-fat foods just because you're firing up the grill.

“There are so many healthy foods that can be cooked on a grill including chicken, fish, vegetables, and even fruits,” said Keri Howell, a registered dietitian with Maury Regional Medical Center. “Grilled foods rarely need any fatty additives like butter, cheese or creamy sauces. The smoky flavors and tasty marinades are a great alternative to higher fat additions.”

Here are 7 ways to make your next BBQ healthier:

  1. Choose low-fat beef, turkey or veggie burgers instead of hamburgers with a high fat content. To add flavor, experiment with seasonings and top with grilled onions, mushrooms or tomatoes. Gotta have cheese? Add a small amount inside the burger instead of smothering cheese on top. You’ll still enjoy that cheesy taste without so much fat.
  2. Skinless chicken breasts and pork tenderloin are good alternatives to red meat. Grill until cooked through and lightly brush with your sauce of choice at the end.
  3. Can’t imagine a BBQ without sausage? Choose turkey or chicken sausage and you’ll still get to enjoy the flavor without the fat. From fiery hot to mildly sweet, you’ll find a taste to suit your palate.
  4. Fish like salmon, tuna and swordfish are great grilling options. Or dust shrimp with dry spices, skewer and grill for just a few minutes.
  5. Marinades add flavor and tenderize leaner cuts of meat. Experiment with mustard, vinegar, fresh herbs, garlic, fruit juices, teriyaki or soy sauce and hot pepper flakes in addition to a bit of heart-healthy olive oil.
  6. Vegetables such as corn, eggplant, zucchini, portobello mushrooms and peppers are grill favorites. Coat with a little olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper before tossing on the grill rack.
  7. Don’t forget about dessert when firing up the grill! Pineapple rings, peach halves or watermelon wedges taste great when grilled.

Keri Howell, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian with Maury Regional Medical Center.
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Date Last Reviewed: March 14, 2018
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
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