Summer isn’t just the season of bare skin, bathing suits, and fresh fruits and vegetables; it is also the season of grilling. So why not take advantage of all the wonderful weather by including BBQ grilling in your list of healthy ways to prepare your food? It tastes great, and it is a great way to keep your weight loss on track. Here are some fantastic ways to get the most out of your grill this summer:
1. Get creative with healthy and easy marinades
Whether you’re grilling fish or chicken, marinating your fish and lean meats can infuse zest and flavor into your food that will only be enhanced by the fire and heat of the grill. For instance, try some of these easy marinades:
- Mahi Mahi – for a truly delicious twist, try marinating your Mahi Mahi with a ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper, ¼ cup fresh grated ginger, 1 clove minced garlic, ½ tsp. onion powder, 2 tbsp. lime juice, ¼ cup olive oil, and ¼ cup orange juice. Marinate fish for approximately 30 minutes before grilling.
- Chicken – an old fashioned teriyaki marinade will turn your chicken into a tasty treat. All you need is ¼ cup. soy sauce, ½ cup pineapple juice, ¼ tsp. black pepper, 2 tbsp. brown sugar, and 1 clove minced garlic. Even though you are marinating with sugar, the amount is insignificant and does not significantly affect calorie count.
- Salmon – give your salmon a fresh flair by marinated it in orange juice, lime and honey. All you need is 1/3 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and a little salt and pepper.
2. Grill some vegetables… and fruit, too
Vegetables like summer squash, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, asparagus, green beans, tomatoes (yes, it’s technically a fruit), and corn really light up a meal when they are cooked on the grill. All it takes is brushing them lightly with a little olive oil (beans, zucchini and squash) and adding a touch of salt, or just try grilling them as-is. When it comes to corn, leave the husks on, and for smaller items like green beans, consider a grilling basket so you can shake the beans for even cooking without them falling through the grill grate. You may even want to grill up some extra tomatoes and chili peppers (jalapenos, green chiles, Serrano peppers, etc.) for creating a nice flavorful salsa later on.
Fruit, on the other hand, can add a sweet accent to your healthy summer meal. Grilling sliced pineapple is a great accent to teriyaki chicken, and grilled mangoes provide a sensational addition to a mango-ginger marinated piece of fish. Other great fruits for grilling include halved apples and pears, papayas, kumquats. Bananas and “stone” fruits like nectarines, peaches, plums and apricots all grill well, but should be skewered and grilled for a shorter period of time.
3. Low Fat Meats and Fish
Low fat meats and fish are the best proteins to grill when it comes to dieting and weight loss. Lower fat meats include poultry and pork loin, as well as most any kind of fish. Although most weight loss programs promote the monitoring of fat intake, it is important to either marinate your fish with a little olive oil in the mix, or brush the grate lightly with oil before cooking so the fish doesn’t stick. Olive oil is the best choice here. Chicken marinades that include a little oil should include vegetable/plant-based oils, or olive oil – those that have little saturated fat (though chicken does not generally have the same problem as fish does as far as sticking to the grill).
One really awesome idea for grilling fish is to use the cedar plank method. Cedar plank salmon is prepared by soaking cedar planks (may be picked up at grocery stores or hardware stores) for one hour prior to grilling. The planks may be soaked in wine, sake, or cider (water will work, too), and then the salmon is placed on top of the plank to cook, while the plank sits directly on the grill. When the temperature is kept at a medium setting, the plank gently steams the fish, allowing it to infuse the smoky flavor and keep it tender and moist. Fish should finish cooking in 12-15 minutes, and the grill cover should remain closed.
Whatever you decide to grill this summer, you will always end up with lower fat content when the fat is allowed to drip off into the grill. Additionally, less oil is generally used when grilling is used as an alternative to other methods of cooking. Enjoy your summer, and keep your weight loss on track by stepping outside to make your meals.
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