Beyond Burgers – Healthier Grilling Ideas

With the longest day of the year in the rearview mirror and some sunshine in the forecast, it’s time to fire up the grill and enjoy the season.  But with so many people having dietary restrictions or trying to eat more healthily, burgers and hot dogs may not quite cut it this summer.  Don’t hang up your BBQ tongs just yet, there are lots of healthy and tasty alternatives that will satisfy even the most discerning houseguest. 

Trying to eat a more plant-based diet?  Grilled vegetables are an excellent way to incorporate more variety into your meal planning; a welcome change from the standard green salad.  Try tossing summer squash or zucchini with some olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, a splash of white wine vinegar and sliced red onion.  Top with sliced jarred banana peppers and a handful of crumbled feta.  

Getting away from red and processed meats is a healthy choice and a Mediterranean-style diet continues to get the seal of approval from dietitians and doctors.  The outdoor grill is a perfect cooking method for all kinds of fish, with the added benefit of keeping odors outside the house where fish smells can linger.  Shrimp, snapper, scallops and salmon all fare well on the grill; marinating or buying filets with skin on will help keep seafood from overcooking or becoming dry.  A whole fish cooked on a well-oiled grill can be an impressive and delicious alternative. 

Chicken is a perennial favorite for grilling season and by adding some veggies to kabobs and preparing a few all-vegetable skewers, it’s easy to enjoy great flavor without all the carbs and fat.   Peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, mushrooms, zucchini and summer squash all enhance the flavor of grilled chicken.  A basic marinade including olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper will brighten up the dish.  Don’t leave the chicken in the marinade for longer than three hours or the meat will start to break down. 

And for dessert? Grilled fruits like peaches, pears or apricots are an unexpected and lighter way to finish a meal.  Drizzle with a little honey, some nuts and shaved cheese, delicious!  Look for this and many other healthy and delicious summer grilling recipes at Salt and Lavender