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Grilling to Perfection

Jul 20, 01:51 PM

Food and Fitness Fundamentals

With the warm summer weather finally here and busy activities abounding, wouldn’t it be great to quickly and painlessly throw healthy fresh meals onto the barbeque? Ta-Da! Dinner is served!
Grilling can make summertime (and year round) meals so easy. Minimal cleanup, little or no pots/pans, no oven to heat your kitchen and in essence all food groups can be thrown on the grill! What could be simpler?
Essentially All Food Groups are perfect for Grilling. Here are a few suggestions that you can use in order to make a meal prepped and served in a matter of minutes:

Meat, Fish and Poultry: All of these are perfect for a quick easy BBQ, but use as a compliment to your meal, instead of a mainstay. The American Heart Association recommends cutting back on red meat and adding more seafood into our meals. Select low fat meats, skinless poultry, various fish and seafood, and yes, even vegetarian sources to drop on to the grill. Here is a recipe you may want to try Juicy Shrimp with Roasted Chile and Avocado Sauce. I suggest using low-fat sour cream and mayo to help cut fat and calories.

Starch: Potatoes, yams and fresh corn on the cob explode with flavor when grilled. Using a rice cooker is another great alternative for cooking quick, healthy dishes such as grains, as well as steaming vegetables, potatoes and other side dishes. Also it is an easy method of transport when taking to a picnic or church potluck.
Vegetables: broccoli, squash, asparagus, carrots, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, fresh beans … you name it! Grilling fresh produce is the perfect way to enhance the fabulous natural flavors nature has provided.
Fruit: Think out of the box. Not many people think of grilling fresh fruit, what a mistake! Barbequed pineapple, apples, peaches, banana etc should never be passed up in tossing onto your grill. They are so rich in flavor and a wonderful addition to your barbequing menu! Click on the link for more recipe ideas

Guidelines for Grilling:

Remove foods from refrigeration 30-45 minutes prior to grilling, as this allows for a more even cooking method. However, it is vital to keep perishable food stored below 45 degrees at all other times as warmer temperatures encourage harmful bacteria to grow rapidly and cause dangerous food poisoning.

Open grill while igniting. You should hear a “whoomp” when the fire ignites. Hold your hand a few inches from grill to feel increasing temperature and ensure it has lit properly. If no heat is felt, repeat with lid open. The last thing you want to do is have the lid closed when trying to light, and produce a nasty explosion!

Heat grill to highest temperature for several minutes to ensure burning off past residue. Then clean the grill with wire brush to remove remaining debris and use long tongs to swab the grate using paper towel and vegetable oil to finalize cleaning and to prevent sticking.

Add wood chips to enhance smoky flavor to foods. Go easy on extras such as this, as plain grilling naturally brings out the unique robust flavors of individual foods. If using wood chips, soak them in water 30 minutes, then wrap tightly in foil and puncture holes in aluminum prior to placing on the grill. Once wood chips have begun smoldering, add food to grill.

Cook low and slow. Because of concerns about carcinogens, cook slow and low. This will aid in reducing the denaturing of DNA in proteins caused by high temperatures. Watch this video on how to cook over indirect heat.

Appropriate saucing If applying sweet barbecue sauces or marinades, apply during the last few minutes in order to prevent burning.

Use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness, especially with larger cuts of meats like pork shoulders and whole poultry.

Think outside of summer and grill all year around! The advantages of grilling and the great flavors produced create an ever-lasting list of quick healthy cooking ideas.

Find out more about healthy grilling and recipes and be sure to try this recipe for the Best BBQ Chicken Ever.

Until next time, here’s to healthy eating!

Lori Dodds, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian at The Corvallis Clinic Nutrition Services Department.

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What a great article!

Michael Lewis Jul 21, 08:39 AM – Leave a comment.

As usual, Lori’s blog is filled with fun and inspiring ways to maintain a healthy-but-delicious lifestyle. Good job Lori!

Jan Roberts-Dominguez Jul 21, 10:03 AM – Leave a comment.


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