Summer is finally here, and that means it's time to fire up the grill. When meal planning for the grill, think beyond the usual burgers, hot dogs and chicken. Stretch your comfort zone this season and make fresh produce a star of the plate at your next BBQ. Not only will your taste buds be satisfied, but you can feel good about finding new and delicious ways to support your healthy eating goals.
#1 Go Lean with Protein
Switch things up with ground turkey burgers. Turkey burgers can be as lean as 99% fat-free. Add cilantro, shallots or chili sauce to spice things up. Or, mix in feta cheese, Kalamata olives, oregano and pepper and serve on a pita with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers for a Greek-style burger. Just remember to use a food thermometer to ensure ground turkey reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F.
Re-invent proteins like grilled fish and chicken with delicious salsas and dressings made with summer herbs and fruit like this Grilled Salmon with Mango Salsa and Grilled Chicken Vegetable Skewers with Basil Sauce.
Grill tofu, tempeh or bean-based burgers as vegetarian and vegan alternatives.
#2 Make Sure To Include Grilled Veggies On the Menu
Baste vegetables such as red peppers, corn on the cob, eggplant, summer squash, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms or onions with olive oil and season with herbs.
Place directly on a hot grill (or a piece of foil) until they are tender and brown.
Surprise guests with grilled marinated Portobello mushrooms. Marinate mushrooms in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, whole ground mustard and fresh herbs for about 30 minutes. Grill mushrooms for about 5 minutes on each side. Serve with tomato and onion slices, lettuce, and with or without toasted bun.
Check out my recipe for Summer Grilled Balsamic Veggies.
#3 Include Easy Salads With Your Summer Spreads
Make a Caprese salad. Slice tomatoes and layer a small, thin piece of mozzarella or goat cheese and fresh basil on each tomato slice, sprinkle with olive oil and lightly salt.
Combine fresh fruit with fresh fennel. Thinly slice fennel and let it soak in freshly squeezed lemon juice for 20 minutes. Toss sliced peaches into fennel and add rice vinegar, lemon zest and a slight sprinkling of salt and pepper
Whip up a quick avocado salad. Cube avocados and toss with vinaigrette, fresh herbs, capers, sliced green onions and roasted pine nuts.
#4 Grill Up Dessert
Cook fruit kabobs, pineapple slices or peach halves on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden for a tasty and nutritious dessert.
Grill watermelon for 30 seconds on each side to bring out unique flavors. You also could carve out a watermelon to use as a bowl for fruit salad!
Marinate strawberries in balsamic vinegar for 30 minutes, toss in fresh mint and serve a refreshing savory dessert.
Adapted from: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, "Tips for A Healthy Cookout", Accessed 6/5/23. Available at: https://www.eatright.org/food/food-preparation/cooking-tips/tips-for-a-healthy-cookout
For more great tips and ideas checkout the Grilling Guide handout .
Sign up for a FREE trial of my meal plans, no no credit card required. You can search through thousands of recipes to get you out of the kitchen quickly so you can enjoy more time at the table with your family
If you are interested in learning more, or scheduling a discovery call with Ellen Petrosino, MS, RDN click here.