Healthy Summer Grilling

Joyce Kavaras, RD, LD

Joyce Kavaras, RD, LD

May 29th, 2013

Memorial Day typically signifies the beginning of the summer season which means backyard barbeques, family picnics, and firing up the grill for quick and easy dinners.

While grilling is often recommended as a lower calorie method of cooking, there are dietary pitfalls that can sabotage your healthy eating intentions. Prepared marinades, sauces, and condiments are often loaded with fat, sugar, and sodium along with added calories.

To keep the extra calories and fat off your plate and waist, always start with a lean cut of meat and then try these strategies at your next cookout! Leave the bottled marinades and sauces behind and instead combine a citrus juice such as lemon or lime, a flavorful vinegar such as balsamic or rice, a low cost wine such as chardonnay or red, and a variety of salt free spices. This type of citrus and wine based marinade has the added bonus of reducing carcinogens that can be an issue when grilling at high temperatures.

Preparing a rub for meats and vegetables is a breeze when you have traditional spice staples like onion powder, garlic powder, Mrs. Dash, Seasoned Lemon Pepper (Lawry’s makes a good one), several varieties of course ground peppers, chili powder, and hot and mild paprika on hand.

Grilled vegetables and fruits can round out your meal nutritionally, and they develop a unique flavor when grilled. Simply wash them, cut in large chunks (to avoid slippage through the grates), place in bowl, spritz with cooking spray and season as needed. Great vegetables to try are zucchini, onions, portabella mushrooms, peppers and asparagus. Fruits to try are pineapple, peaches, plums, and watermelon.

Just making a few simple tweaks to your usual go-to BBQ techniques can help you keep it light and flavorful and in line with your healthy lifestyle goals. Bon Appétit!

The Eating Well website provides some great summer grilling recipes.

Questions? Comments? Share your thoughts here.

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