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Time for Healthy Grilling Ideas

It’s the semi-official time of the year when we dietitians take to the aisles with a healthy grilling theme! Even though many of us are fortunate — or crazy — enough to grill all year, supermarkets are busy putting their final touches on their grilling promotions for the rest of us who confine our outdoor cooking to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Notice, the word “healthy” is in the first sentence. Emphasizing the ribs and burgers and hot dogs might be the easiest sell, but adding a healthy twist to your efforts can be more rewarding.

Here are some ideas to bring the “healthy” message front and center. And don’t worry, that doesn’t mean a goodbye to traditional favorites. This is just a way to fill your customers’ plates with other options!

• Locally grown and organically grown fruits and veggies are in season and many of them fit the healthy grilling theme. Asparagus finished with olive oil and a balsamic vinegar, zucchini and the first tomatoes of the year alternated on skewers and grilled with bell pepper wedges. Team that up with tender greens for a quick and great salad on the side.

• Chicken is always a favorite but use a baste of lemon, olive oil and fresh herbs. The same works for salmon that comes in the spring. If beef is on the menu, try a flat iron steak or a pork tenderloin. These are two cuts that grill lean!

• Fruits add a natural sweetness to the meal. Apples sliced and dusted with cinnamon and slices of pineapple can be part of a skewer, or tossed in a grill pan. Once the first peaches of the season appear they add even more flavor. And of course they can be served with vanilla Greek yogurt for a luscious but healthy dessert.

• Keep the recipes simple and feature the total package of ingredients at any demo stations. Include the special vinegars, oils, herbs and spices so that it’s easier for customers to buy into the healthy grilling theme.

• Teach safe grilling techniques along with health. No food is healthy if it hasn’t been properly handled!