Grilled Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese

The summer season may be officially over but temperatures are still warm enough for grilling to be de riguer. Unlike frying or sautéing, grilling is a cooking method that does not require the addition of fat; in addition, during grilling fat cooks out and falls away from food, which means that fewer calories and less fat end up on your plate. When you prepare foods on the grill, nutrients are not lost the way they can be in boiling, poaching, or braising (which all involve cooking food in a liquid)—meaning that the foods retain their vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. For all these reasons, grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook. What’s more, many foods cook quickly on the grill, making this a time-saving way to prepare your meals.

Even during back-to-school time, seasonal produce is as abundant as it has been for months, so why not stretch summer a little longer with this grilled vegetable salad with goat cheese recipe? Aside from the healthy cooking method, this salad is packed with all sorts of nutritious ingredients:
•Asparagus is surprisingly high in protein—who knew half its calories come from this macronutrient?—and is packed with vitamin A, folic acid, and fiber.
•Red bell peppers are an excellent source of folate, vitamin K, and manganese.
•Compared to cheddar and other cow’s-milk cheeses, goat cheese is lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium and higher in nutrients like vitamins D and K, thiamin, and niacin, and it contains no cholesterol.
•Zucchini, also called summer squash, is rich in a variety of antioxidants. In fact, studies show it is one of the best food sources of the health-boosting carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin. One cup contains 32 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.
•Before you balk at the olive oil, consider that it consists chiefly of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). According to the Mayo Clinic, unsaturated fats may lower cholesterol (both LDL or “bad” cholesterol and total cholesterol) and may support the stabilization of insulin and blood sugar, which are important factors in guarding against type 2 diabetes. Remember to eat even healthy fats in moderation, because they are high in calories.