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7 Healthy (and Delicious) Foods You Can Grill That Aren’t Veggies

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If you’re trying to keep a trim summer bod, but still want to dig in at the Fourth of July party, we have good news! You don’t have to stand around the vegetable tray, munching on carrots and celery to stay healthy at your backyard barbecue.

Here are seven yummy, guilt-free foods to throw on the grill that won’t throw you off your diet game.

1. Skinless, boneless white meat chicken

Packed with protein and nutrients, chicken should stay on the BBQ menu. White meat has slightly fewer calories and less saturated fat than dark meat, but the real difference is in the skin, which holds a ton of extra fat. When grilled right, skinless chicken breasts can be just as juicy and delicious. Make sure you know what the labels on your meat actually mean when you’re at the market. If you’re still craving some flavor, try mixing up this sugar-free barbecue sauce. 

2. Lean ground beef and turkey

If you’re craving a burger, opt for 90% lean ground beef for the same delicious taste with way less fat. If you want to be extra healthy, choose extra lean ground turkey breast, the heartier alternative to a veggie burger with all the low-cal, low-fat, low-carb benefits. BONUS: Ditch the bun for equally delicious swaps like Portobello mushroom tops, halved tomatoes, lettuce wraps, eggplant or sweet potato ends. (Yeah, yeah, we know we said no veggies, but these are served with meat!)

3. Tenderloin steak

You don’t want to consume too much red meat, but choosing healthy cuts of steak in moderation won’t derail your diet. Tenderloin lends itself well to grilling, but other healthy cuts include flank, sirloin, filet mignon and top round roast. (Basically, avoid T-bone or prime rib.) Skip salty seasoning and opt for a salt-free grilling blend, to cut out extra sodium.

4. Fish

Pescatarians will tell you just how scrumptious (and heart-healthy) grilled fish can be. The best barbecue fish are mahi-mahi, salmon, swordfish, tuna, snapper and grouper. Any of these can work with minimal seasoning and healthy marinades, like lemon or lime juice and orange slices. Wrap your fish in aluminum foil to seal in the flavors and keep it from falling apart on the grill.

5. Pork chops

While not the most obvious choice at a barbecue, pork chops have a surprisingly high number of nutrients. Grilled pork chops are low in calories (a 4-ounce serving only has 130) with zero carbs and less cholesterol than red meat. They’re a great alternative to traditional ribs – try adding barbecue sauce, similar to chicken.

6. Tofu

This classic vegetarian-friendly option is far from bland with the right spices and marinade. Be sure to pat tofu with paper towels to absorb excess water before grilling. Use tofu patties as a burger substitute or serve straight up in squares. For teriyaki tofu, combine soy sauce, brown sugar and ginger for a mouthwatering marinade blend.

7. Fruit

Go for fruit instead of veggies! Grilled fruit is a unique and tasty addition to any table. They’re good enough to be eaten alone as kabobs, but fruit also pairs well with other summer dishes. Pineapples and mangoes are great toppers for any meat dishes, while sliced watermelon, strawberries and pears are perfect for salads. Grilled peaches, nectarines and bananas are ideal for sweet desserts. (And will stop you from pigging out on the empty calories in other sugary treats.)

If you’re an Independence Blue Cross member, you can get more nutrition tips like this by making an appointment with a registered dietitian. For some members, up to six visits to a dietitian are included in your plan at no cost. To learn more, visit ibx.com.