Get Fired Up for Summer
By Emma Falconer, MA
Bariatric Dietitian Intern at BIDMC
Despite the mild winter we had in New England this year, summer is here in full force. With warm weather come the farmers markets, picnics, baseball games and other fun outdoor activities. Luckily, we don’t have to be in the kitchen all day to eat healthy — we can also grill outside!
Grilling is a healthy, fun, and incredibly easy way to eat well throughout the warmer months. By following these simple tips, you can enjoy nutritious meals all summer long.
Marinate Your Food
Marinating food can add flavor while keeping meats soft and juicy. Try marinades that use fruit juices, herbs, spices and heart-healthy oils for added flavor and nutrients. Additionally, some studies show the marinade can act as a protective barrier for the food, reducing the amount of carcinogens created through grilling.
Grilled meats are delicious, but remember to choose lean cuts and skinless options to minimize any extra saturated fat that can clog our arteries and increase risk for heart disease over time. Additionally, grilling leaner meats means less fat dripping off, creating less smoke and carcinogens.
Some naturally lean sources of protein include boneless skinless chicken breasts, shrimp, salmon, scallops, white fish and extra lean ground beef. You can also swap out higher-calorie proteins like hot dogs and sausage for chicken sausage or turkey kielbasa.
Take a Temperature Check
The best way to check if food is cooked enough to kill harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, is to use a food thermometer. Remember, steaks should be cooked to at least 145°F, ground meats to 160°F, all poultry to 165°F, and fish to 145°F.
The grill isn’t limited to meat. Try grilling up some sliced pineapple, peaches, broccoli, asparagus spears, sliced bell peppers, onions, mushrooms — the options are endless! Kabobs are a great way to cook veggies on the grill without worrying about them falling through the plates. Grilled fruit can be a great alternative to a higher sugar dessert.
Reminder: meats often take a little longer to cook, so add your fruits and vegetables toward the end.
Remember Food Safety
In addition to using a thermometer to make sure protein sources are cooked thoroughly, there are a few other steps needed for safe cooking practices.
- Thaw all chicken, fish and meats either in the fridge or under cold running water (never on the counter!).
- Use separate cutting boards for raw meats and fruits/vegetables.
- Place cooked foods on a clean plate, not the one used to carry them to the grill while they were raw.
- Thoroughly clean all the char from the grill prior to using to prevent buildup of carcinogens.
Make a Little Extra
Grilling in bulk is extremely easy to do, and can be a delicious way to eat healthy all week long. Let leftovers cool, then store in the fridge to be used throughout the week. Add grilled chicken to a salad or whole wheat wrap. Grilled vegetables can be heated up and used for fajitas. Grilled fruits can be mixed with plain yogurt and a little granola for a quick breakfast.
Now that you have the basics down, try out these great recipes on a grill near you!
Above content provided by the Weight Loss Surgery Center Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.