Springtime is the start of warm weather and grilling season. It's synonymous with grilling for many American families, and why not? When the weather is warm, we spend more time outdoors and try to stay out of the hot kitchen.
The days start to get longer, and it starts to stay lighter longer, and the evenings tend to seem a little less jam-packed with activities than usual. These are all great reasons to look to the barbecue for dinner inspiration.
But before you dust off that grill, call over some friends, I have some tips to help you enjoy the BBQ season while keeping your meals as lean and healthy as can be without compromising on the fun.
Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 1: Bold ingredients add great flavor to grilling sauces and marinades.
You can add bold flavors without adding too many calories or fat grams. Here are some of my favorite ingredients for sauces and marinades: Worcestershire sauce: 2 tablespoons contain 30 calories, 0 grams fat, and 390 milligrams sodium Chili sauce: 2 tablespoons contain 40 calories, 0 grams fat, and 960 milligrams sodium (depending on brand)
Tomato paste: 2 tablespoons contain 30 calories, 0 grams fat, and 20 milligrams sodium Molasses: 2 tablespoons contain 120 calories, 0 grams fat, and 40 milligrams sodium Soy sauce (less-sodium type): 2 tablespoons contain 20 calories, 0 grams fat, and 1150 milligrams sodium
Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 2: Have large resealable plastic bag, will marinate!
One of the easiest ways to marinate meat, chicken, fish or vegetables is to place them inside a large, resealable plastic bag. Set the bag in a medium sized bowl, then drizzle the marinade over the food. Seal the bag, eliminating any excess air. The food should be surrounded by the marinade. Keep marinating in the refrigerator until you're ready to grill.
Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 3: A little sweetness is good, but more is not better
Adding a small amount of a sweet ingredient (like fruit juice, brown sugar, honey or molasses) to the marinade or grilling sauce can be a good thing. It adds flavor and helps to balance other bold spices in the marinade or sauce. But too much sweetness can encourage the meat, fish, or vegetables to burn when they're grilled over high heat.
Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 4: Throw some vegetables on the grill
The best part about grilling vegetables is that you don't have to worry about overcooking them as you do with some types of meat. And vegetables seem to taste better grilled than they do cook any other way. Marinating vegetables will help them caramelize better when they're grilled, and it's the caramelization that brings the best flavors. Just submerge the vegetables in a marinade for about an hour before putting them on the grill. If you don't have that kind of prep time, just coat the vegetables ever so lightly with a little olive oil or canola oil.
Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 5: Deconstruct your favorites
Sure, hot dogs aren't the poster child of healthy eating, but deconstructing your favorite BBQ meal is a way to make it a bit healthier. A hot-off-the-grill, juicy, ConAgra Hebrew National® All-Beef Franks hot dogs are one of grilling season’s ultimate greatest pleasures. But, who says you have to be deprived when you’re eating clean? With a well-chosen hot dog, bun and fresh toppings, you can make the best of the wurst. I LOVE deconstructing mine by creating a salad with bold colors and fresh ingredients. I usually will top it with sauerkraut and a dijon vinaigrette for some wholesome, quality eating. Want the recipe? Continue reading!
Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 6: Be sensible about servings
- Encourage eating smaller portions by grilling the meat in smaller portions, such as:
- 1/4 pound burgers (made with extra-lean ground sirloin) instead of 1/3 or 1/2 pound patties.
- Filet mignon-sized steaks instead of 10- to 16-ounce steaks.
- Kabobs made with small pieces of meat, alternated with vegetables.
- Link sausage cut lengthwise in half instead of grilled whole.
- Thin slices of larger cuts of meat (such whole pork tenderloin, roasts, etc). Let the meat rest 10 minutes after cooking, then slice before serving to family or guests.
What You'll Need
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
What You'll Need To Know
Whisk lemon juice, Dijon mustard, vinegar, and garlic in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
I've partnered with ConAgra Hebrew National® All-Beef Franks to bring you this lean BBQ tips. As always, all opinions are my own.