Fired up about eating healthy

grilled vegetables and chicken

Summertime is grilling time! Grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook. Think beyond burgers and hotdogs: Grilling adds rich, smoky flavors to many foods without adding a lot of fat and calories. With a few simple tips, you can cook an entire delicious, healthy meal on the grill, including dessert.

You don’t have to give up eating beef just because you are watching your cholesterol. Opt for lean cuts of beef like flank steak, filet mignon or top loin. When shopping, remember loin = lean. Lean cuts of pork and lamb are good grilling options too. Trim all visible fat before cooking.

“By creating your own marinades, you can control the flavor, calories and sodium,” said Casey Potts, registered dietitian, Norton Weight Management Services. “It’s fun to experiment with different herbs and spices for new flavors you can’t get in the store.”

Potts recommends making your own marinade for chicken by starting with a drizzle of olive oil in a zip-close plastic bag. Add fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice as well as the rind. Citrus juice helps tenderize meat, and the oils from the rind add a blast of flavor. Next add several dashes of your favorite herbs and seasonings, like Italian, rosemary, dill or Cajun. The possibilities are endless! Oil it up. Lean foods tend to stick when placed on a hot, dry rack. Oil your hot grill rack with a canola oil soaked paper towel held with tongs. Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.

Don’t forget the veggies. Fire-roasted vegetables have a unique, irresistible flavor. Place smaller, cut veggies on foil to grill.

You don’t have to skip dessert. “The natural sugars in fruits will caramelize on a warm grill, creating a sweet but good for- you dessert,” Potts said. “Try grilling pineapple rings or peach halves, then drizzle with honey and a dollop of low-fat vanilla yogurt for a satisfying summer treat.”

Also look for Carlos’ Homestyle Bar-B-Que Sauce, a secret recipe sauce perfect for grilling, in local stores. Proceeds help support Kosair Children’s Hospital. To find retail locations, go to HelpKosairChildrensHospital.com.

–Jennifer Reynolds