6 Tips for a Healthier Grill

By Debbie Jeffery, RDN LD

With summer comes increased outdoor activity. One of the most anticipated of these activities is grilling due to the delicious flavors, variety of foods and happy memories of friends and celebrations. Below are 6 tips to make the grilling season healthier.

#1 – Choose lean meat alternatives. Venture out of your comfort zone and try non-traditional types of meat such as buffalo, ostrich and venison. Of course, don’t forget fish. If you prefer traditional meats, guidelines are:

  • Poultry: Skinless, white meat chicken or turkey; ground turkey breast
  • Beef:  Flank steak, top sirloin, tenderloin, 93% or higher lean ground beef
  • Veal:  Any trimmed cut
  • Pork:  Pork chops or tenderloin

#2 – Portion it out. One pound of ground meat should make 4 burgers. This helps to keep portions in check. A serving of meat should be 3 – 4 ounces, about the size of a deck of cards.

#3 – Skip the processed meat. Grilled hot dogs and sausages, even the lean varieties such as turkey hot dogs or chicken sausage, contain cancer causing substances from the preservation techniques used. The American Institute for Cancer Research has linked processed meats to an increase in colorectal cancer. If hot dogs are a must, consider a nitrate free variety such as Applegate Farms.

#4 – Marinate your meat. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends marinating meat for at least 30 minutes to help reduce cancer risk. Scientists are unsure why, but it appears that the marinade acts as a barrier to protect against carcinogens produced during the grilling process. Skinless chicken marinated in pineapple juice and low sodium soy sauce makes for an easy to prepare, tasty entree.

#5 – Switch up the side dishes. Potato salad, coleslaw, and macaroni salads are all typical BBQ foods; however, most times they are laden with full fat mayonnaise. Instead, use fat free yogurt for half of the mayonnaise to help reduce calories and fat. Consider these nutrient dense side dishes:

  • Beans will boost fiber intake.
  • Fresh veggie and fruit trays provide vitamins, minerals and fiber as well as prevent you and others from overeating.
  • Grill some veggies in aluminum foil packages. Onions, corn on the cob, mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini and asparagus spears grill well to make delicious and healthy sides.

#6 – Clean the grill. Scrape down and scrub the grill after every use to help remove the carcinogenic reside that can build up.