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With Memorial Day here, it's grilling season and as I looked at this week's menu my first thought was that I have to get the grill fired up but do it in a healthy way - and think beyond the fatty ribeyes I ate regularly for so many years.
Many us when we think of grilling we think of the huge slabs of meat and often the guy cooking them with a beer in hand and maybe a beer belly to match that slab of meat - typically not the healthy, fit image we are all striving for.  But grilling in recent years has transformed dramatically from the days of a simple burger or steak on the grill.  With the introduction of simple gourmet techniques like marinades or the introduction of unusual ingredients and spices, grilling today provides awesome quality food and cooked properly can be very fit.  So let's look at some ways to keep your grilling days super-fit and soul-satisfying.
First, if you want to stay fit don't forget what are probably the healthiest thing we can eat - vegetables.  Fresh vegetables can be cooked easily on the grill without fat and kept crisp to maintain phytonutrients.  Whether it's peppers, tomatoes or onions on a kabob or just some simple vegetables grilled to accompany the meat or fish you will also be grilling, the more color the better.  A classic American summertime food like sweet corn which is normally covered with butter can be made every bit as flavorful but far healthier when corn meets the grill.  When I cook grilled sweet corn I just rub a bit of olive oil and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over it, grilling it until is has a few blackened kernels for taste you won't get from a pot of boiling water.  No fatty butter there, only good fat from olive oil but still with all the flavor you want.  

Second, let's look at our protein sources.  Choose less fatty meats or fish and marinade them for flavor since they don't contain much fat which typically provides flavor.  For beef: flank steak, sirloin, or beef tenderloin are good choices.  Chicken breasts are perhaps the healthiest choice, and certain cuts of pork can be very healthy too. 

Third, get creative with rubs, marinades, and sauces.  Use rubs or marinades and the results can be outstanding.  Marinades mean you can cook with out any added fat.  You can also make meal prepartion time super-quick by spending a few minutes in the mornig marinating the meat and then in minutes prepare the dinner after a long day of work.  I also have a special device for marinating that a chef at a Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay told me about after I had some amazing short ribs for dinner one night - but that's a topic for another day's blog.  And for serving, maybe even include a sauce such as a vitamin-rich Argentina-inspired garlic chimichurri sauce or chipotle sauce which I often add depending on my mood.   Even a simple hamburger can be made incredibly delicious and more healthful with the right approach (see my video on the grilled sirloin burger with chipotle sauce and guacamole which I will be cooking this evening and posting here later as an example), 

Fourth, use your grill in innovative ways for other things.  I use my gas grill for my homemade bruschetta.  True authentic bruschetta (the real garlic bread) was always cooked on a greal grill, not an oven.  In fact, the word bruschetta comes from an Italian/Latin word "bruscare" meaning to grill or cook over a fire.  And talk about fit and delicious:  grilled bread topped with a mixture of olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic, (or other ingredients like a fava garlic bean spread - get creative!) - rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients, and other vitamins.  Need a super-low calorie meal some night?  On occassion, I've had just bruschetta with wine and maybe a few bites of prosciutto or a simple bean soup for protein.  Great summertime simple super-light meal.

Some final tips?

Watch the sodium and watch prepared marinades as most are full of way too much salt and fructose.  You can make a marinade in minutes that is far healthier based on whole foods rather than dehydrated garlic, salt, and chemicals.

Watch your portions.  Even a heatlhy meal will put fat on your body if you eat too much.  Avoid that second serving.

Stick with low fat toppings.  Most of the time watch out for cheese and mayo and instead choose a healthy fat source such as avocado or a topping with no fat.  

And finally, just to be clear, I do sometimes cook something fattier and less healthy on the grill, whether it's a big ribeye or a beef brisket or Boston butt smoked, or even a simple burger.  But rather than the weekly steak I used to eat, now I eat it rarely and choose healthier alternatives most days.  But it never hurts to mix it up a little - after all we eat not only to keep our bodies fit but also our souls engergized.  A little variety never hurts and it will keep your food and your life more interesting!
 


Comments

04/21/2015 1:23am

Anything grilled has a unique, smoky flavor, and grilling is a super-quick cooking method. Healthy grilling recipes include grilled scallops with honeydew-avocado salsa and delicious beef tenderloin “dogs.”

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12/13/2016 4:14am

I will definitely use your cooking tips. You are a real professional.

Reply
12/17/2016 2:57am

Grill is a great thing for cooking! I need to buy it to cook different things!

Reply
05/04/2017 1:41am

Thank you for posting these wonderful tips! We are now on the vacation season. I am sure different families and friends are already planning their outings. Of course they need to come up with the venue first. Next to this, are the foods they need to prepare! For sure, grilling is part of outing! To be able to perfect the art of grilling, all of you should be able to read this!

Reply

I'm trying to eat more vegetables at summer. But what should I do at winter?

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    Every Day Fit GourmetTM 
    Ingredients, Cooking, Fitness

    A high tech marketing guy with no time who loves gourmet food from around the world, eats it every day, and cares about staying fit and healthy.