Grilling Out Gets A Healthy Makeover
Grilling out is as much of a summer ritual as any. But proceed with caution the next time you head outside to fire up dinner, because this American pastime can also be a breeding ground for unhealthy—and even unsafe—eating.
In The Kitchen
The first order of business is to drop hot dogs, sausage, and other high-fat meats from the menu. Instead, plan for protein (and a whole lot less fat) through lean cuts of beef or pork, skinless chicken breasts, or fish that stand up beautifully to the high heat like tuna steaks, snapper, and salmon. Or, splurge on some low-cal seafood like shrimp or scallop kebobs instead of the usual red meats. (Bonus: Skewered food comes without buns and all of those carbs!) Find even more meal inspiration in this roundup of healthy grilling recipes.
On The Grill
Immediately trim any visible fat and skin from meats and poultry. Why? A number of recent studies suggest that fat that’s been dripped onto the coals can cause nasty carcinogens to form back on the meat. (Note: Fortunately, they don’t form on veggies.) The more smoke, the more potential cancerous chemicals—so keep that Weber as clean as possible. Also, use smaller portions of meat, which will ultimately mean less time on the grill. Another good idea? Marinate beforehand for one to two hours in olive oils and citrus juices, which can greatly reduce the chance of carcinogens. Here are some of those healthy marinade recipes right here and here. Finally, if the food ends up crispy, it’s best to trim and toss the charred bits.
At The Table
Certain condiments have a reputation for fat and calories, but that doesn’t mean you have to let barbecued food go naked or unhealthy. Do yourself a favor without losing flavor with these smart substitutions. One of the biggest offenders is mayo—even the non-fat kind. But spreading some Greek yogurt or heart-healthy hummus, or guacamole will result in the same creamy effect. Also, swap out ketchup and all of its iffy ingredients for a few slices of fresh tomatoes or some zesty salsa. A healthy slathering of barbecue sauce is anything but healthy: Plenty of sodium and carbohydrates, among other pitfalls, will sabotage even the healthiest of foods. Instead? Use dry rub. Even better, countless flavor combos can be created from these herbs, salts, and spices. Finally, keep spreading the mustard, because its seeds are a rich source of essential oils, minerals, and vitamins.
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