Just about any meal tastes better when you cook and eat it outside. Maybe that’s because preparing food over an open flame brings out the flavor in many of our favorite ingredients. Even better, cooking on the grill can help you on your weight loss journey because it lets you create delicious meals without loading you up on excess calories or unhealthy fats. Cooking outside also keeps your home cooler on sultry days and leaves you with less mess to clean up when the meal is done. To help you get the most out of the grilling season, here are nine healthy grilling ideas and hints that will keep you on track with your weight loss this summer.
1. Protein preferences.
You have so many choices beyond ordinary hamburgers and hot dogs for your grilled meals. PowerFuels, such as chicken breast or salmon, fill you up with essential protein. However, they’re typically lower in saturated fat and calories than other options.
Chicken and fish take on a rich, smoky flavor as they cook on the grill. If you are craving a burger, try a turkey burger, which is leaner than beef and still provides that hearty, flame-kissed taste. If you do opt for beef, be sure to choose lean steaks and burgers.
2. Season before heating.
You can amp up the flavor of your favorite proteins with herbs and spices, such as sage, rosemary, cayenne pepper and garlic. They are unlimited Free foods on the Nutrisystem weight loss plan because they don’t add calories to your meals.
Experienced cooks use spice blends known as “rubs” to season food before grilling it. A simple combination of equal parts black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and cinnamon treats your taste buds to zesty, savory and sweet flavors in every bite.
3. Mighty marinades.
Soaking chicken and fish in a seasoned liquid before you grill them ensures that they stay moist and tender while cooking. This process, known as marinating, also infuses the ingredients with flavors that emerge as the food cooks. Marinade recipes are simple to make yourself, like the blend we use to make Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs. Plus, according to Harvard Health Publishing, “Marinating food for a while before cooking limits the formation of potential carcinogens while grilling.”
If you choose to buy bottled marinades, look for low-sodium and low-sugar varieties. Also, be sure to discard any marinade after you put the food on the grill. Reusing marinade after it has been in contact with raw meat or fish can introduce unhealthy bacteria to your cooked food.
4. Hot veggies.
Grilling does more than enhance the flavor of chicken, fish and other proteins. When cooked over an open flame, many kinds of vegetables become sweeter while they absorb the smoky taste of the fire.
Grilled zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant and onions are ideal side dishes for summer meals. Try grilling thick tomato slices brushed with a little olive oil. Just cook them for a few minutes until they’re tender. For an alternative to a beef burger, grill a meaty portobello mushroom. This will help you reach your four required servings of non-starchy vegetables while keeping you full and satisfied.
5. Fruity options.
Sweet, juicy fruits are one of the great food pleasures of the summer. Grilling them takes many favorites to the next level of flavor.
Peaches, pineapple, mangoes, figs, watermelon and cantaloupe all taste even better after a few minutes of cooking over a fire. You can also add a smoky and tart flavor to fish and other dishes by lightly grilling lemons and then squeezing the juice onto them. For all the details, check out this article on 10 fruits that taste awesome grilled. >
6. Best buns.
If you are having a burger or making sandwiches with grilled chicken, fish or mushrooms, be sure to choose whole grain buns. They are SmartCarbs that contain fiber and are typically lower on the glycemic index.
To give your buns extra crunch and flavor, lightly mist the inside of each half of the bun with non-stick cooking spray and toast them for a couple minutes on the grill. Then top with your favorite grilled PowerFuel and non-starchy veggies.
7. Condiment care.
The toppings you put on your grilled food can be the finishing touch that makes your meal special. However, you want to be sure they don’t load you up with excess calories.
Ketchup, pickles, relish, mayonnaise and salad dressing are all Extras on your Nutrisystem plan because they tend to be higher in calories, sugar or fats. You can use them but be sure to stick to the serving sizes recommended in our Grocery Guide. Better yet, use Free foods such as mustard, salsa or hot sauce. They are all unlimited.
8. Beware of flare ups.
While you want your grilled food to taste like it’s been cooked over an open flame, you don’t want them to be burned by the fire. When fat drips from food and then burns on the grill, the smoke it makes contains two kinds of compounds that have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. To avoid the flare-ups caused by burning fats, cook your food gradually over a low-to-medium flame.
9. Clean up.
You don’t have to clean pots and pans when you cook on the grill, but you should take time after it cools down to remove any leftover bits of food stuck to the grates. They can burn, produce smoke or cause bitter flavors in your next meal.
Use a wire brush to remove the leftovers and then wipe off the grates with a paper towel to be sure no bristles from the brush are left behind. Then you’ll be ready to fire it up whenever you have a craving for delicious grilled food. Get more tips for getting your grill BBQ ready here! >
Looking for more healthy grilling ideas? Click the link below for some healthy grilled recipes!: