The incredible aroma of food cooking on the grill is a sure-fire way to spark your appetite. Here are some ways to sneak some nutrition onto the plate the next time everyone gathers around the grill.
Make burgers with lean ground beef, veal, chicken or turkey. Add finely minced carrots, celery and onions to the mixture; bind with some rolled oats or breadcrumbs. Don’t over-handle the mixture or your burgers will be tough. To prevent burgers from falling apart during grilling, chill them first.
Veggie burgers or marinated portabella mushroom caps are great vegetarian alternatives. Serve them on whole wheat rolls or pita bread topped with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, roasted red peppers and grilled onion slices.
Grilled vegetables are always a winner. Grilled vegetable skewers are also fun and are full of flavor. Arrange the veggies on separate skewers from the meat or chicken and grill until tender and golden.
Add a salad or two to the menu and you’ve got the makings of a healthy, fabulous feast.
TIPS FOR HEALTHIER GRILLING
- Marinating meats and poultry before cooking makes them more tender and flavorful. If making an acid-based marinade, use a non-reactive container (glass, ceramic, stainless steel or a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag). Marinate either at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. For longer marinating, cover and refrigerate the food overnight.
- Drain the marinade before grilling. If you want to reserve the leftover marinade for basting or to use as a sauce, be sure to bring it to a boil, then simmer it for 5 minutes before drizzling it over the cooked food. Marinate meat or poultry for 1 to 2 hours (or up to 48 hours) in the refrigerator. Marinate fish or tofu for 1 hour. Marinate vegetables (e.g., asparagus, green beans or broccoli) for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- To keep poultry moist and prevent it from drying out during grilling, remove the skin after it is cooked.
- Ground beef needs to be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°. Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165° throughout. Large cuts of meat, such as steak, should be cooked from 145° (medium-rare) to 160° (medium). Check the internal temperature by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat or poultry.
- You can precook meat or poultry in the oven ahead of time, and then complete the last-minute cooking on the grill. This helps save time.
- Don’t grill over direct heat. Place food around the hot coals, not directly over them.
Source: Norene’s Healthy Kitchen
Makes about 3/4 cup, enough for 2 to 3 lbs of meat, fish, chicken or tofu
This terrific marinade is guaranteed to bring rave reviews from family and friends. It also does double-duty as a sauce and is delicious on meat, poultry, fish, tofu or vegetables.
1/4 cup orange juice (preferably fresh) or mango juice
1/4 cup soy sauce (low-sodium or regular)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (preferably fresh)
3 cloves garlic (about 1 tablespoon minced)
1 slice peeled fresh ginger (about 1 tablespoon minced)
2 teaspoons Asian (toasted) sesame oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
Combine all the ingredients in a jar and shake well. Store, covered, in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
Note: Keeps for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. Freezes well for up to 3 months.
Prepare marinade as directed above. Place in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 2 tablespoons water or orange juice. Stir the cornstarch solution into the boiling marinade and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve as a sauce.
GREAT GRILLED VEGETABLES
Source: Norene’s Healthy Kitchen
Makes 8 servings
“Veg-out” at your next barbecue with this easy Mediterranean-style dish.
1 large red onion, sliced in rings (e.g., Vidalia)
3 colored bell peppers (red, orange or yellow), cut in chunks
2 cups mushrooms, halved (or 8 portabella mushrooms)
1 small eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds
2 zucchini and/or yellow squash, trimmed, sliced diagonally 1/2-inch thick
1 bunch asparagus spears, ends trimmed
4 cloves garlic, crushed (about 4 teaspoons minced)
1/4 cup olive oil (preferably extra-virgin)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup lightly packed chopped fresh basil (see Note)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (see Note)
- In a large bowl, combine onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and asparagus.
- Add garlic, olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper; mix well. Marinate at least 30 minutes (or cover and refrigerate overnight).
- Transfer vegetables to a perforated grill basket, reserving any leftover marinade. (If you don’t have a grilling basket, use heavy-duty foil that has been slashed in several places.) Grill over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, or until nicely browned, stirring two or three times.
- Remove from grill and transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Add reserved marinade, basil and oregano. Mix well.
Note: If using dried basil and oregano instead of fresh, add them to the vegetable mixture before marinating, along with the salt and pepper. Thyme and rosemary also make flavorful seasonings.
GRILLED MOROCCAN SALMON
Source: Healthy Helpings by Norene Gilletz
Makes 4 servings
If you would rather broil the fish in your oven, spray the broiler rack with nonstick spray to prevent sticking.
4 salmon steaks (1 1/2 to 2 lbs)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, sliced
Preheat grill. Sprinkle both sides of salmon with seasonings. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and lemon juice. Place fish in a lightly greased grill basket. Grill 3 to 4 minutes per side. Grill lemon slices quickly. Use as a garnish.
Source: Norene’s Healthy Kitchen
Makes 6 servings
Chimichurri is a bold-flavored herb sauce that is as common in Argentina as ketchup is in North America.
6 boneless, skinless single chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, cut in chunks
2/3 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar (or sherry
or rice vinegar)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the chicken breasts and pat dry with paper towels. Trim the excess fat. Lightly sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then place in a large, zip-top plastic bag.
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the garlic, onion and parsley until minced, about 8 to 10 seconds. Add the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper; process for about 5 seconds to blend. Transfer the sauce to a large glass measuring cup.
Pour half the sauce over the chicken in the plastic bag. Seal the bag tightly and shake well to thoroughly coat the chicken in the sauce. Let the chicken marinate in the sauce for 30 to 60 minutes at room temperature or for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. Place the remaining sauce in a gravy boat or serving bowl; cover and refrigerate to serve with the cooked chicken.
When the chicken is marinated, preheat the grill and set to medium high. Remove the chicken from the marinade in the bag; discard the marinade. Grill the chicken over indirect heat for 5 to 6 minutes per side, until grill marks appear and juices run clear. Serve immediately with the reserved sauce.
Note: Keeps for up to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well. Freezes well for up to 3 months. Sauce may discolor slightly if frozen.
Instead of chicken, use 2 to 3 lbs. lean London broil or steak. Grill the meat over indirect heat for 8 to 10 minutes per side or until medium (pink juices will come to the surface of meat). Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain and serve with reserved sauce.
Norene Gilletz is a cookbook author and culinary consultant in Toronto. She is the author of eight cookbooks. For more information, visit her web site at www.gourmania.com.