It’s summer which means it’s time to fire up the grill. Impress your family and your friends this year with our chefs’ top 10 tips for adding healthier flavors on the grill. Everyone can #Grillbetter with these chef-approved methods that you can use before, during, and after putting your main course on the grill.
1. Soak up the marinade
Start with the right marinade and add healthier flavor to your meats and veggies before you even light the grill. Along with herbs and spices, healthier marinades contain healthy oils, with less added salt or sugar. Reduce salt with either wine vinegar, citrus infused oil, or a little mustard. Reduce added sugar with fruit purees, try ripe mango or peach puree blended with dried cranberries or white raisins.
2. Rub on the spices
Spice rubs add flavor to meats, fish and chicken. Made from common pantry ingredients like paprika, chili powder, and cayenne, spice rub ingredients have fewer calories than BBQ sauces or even marinades. Spice combinations are endless from garlic, onion powder, dried basil and oregano to spicy Jerk chicken rub, made from allspice, cayenne, nutmeg, ground cloves, and cinnamon.
3. Bursts of lemon
It’s easy to cut the amount of salt you use on your grilled meats or seafood by 50%. Just replace with lemony goodness. Replace each ½ teaspoon of salt with 5 teaspoons of juice and 1 teaspoon of zest and drizzle flavor directly over foods as they cook. How you tend to food while it’s on the grill can enhance and lock in flavor.
4. Baste on the flavor
Use your basting brush and pack on additional flavor over the flame. Baste green veggies with olive oil and herb mixes. Baste steak, chicken or fish with your own mix of ingredients. Try chopped cloves and onions mixed with Dijon mustard, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.
5. Top it all off
Not all flavor is added on the grill, some can be added after you grill. Try toppings that add healthy flavors to your plate. Top with veggie salad made from finely shaved carrots and red cabbage or chopped fresh herbs like basil, chives, or tarragon.
6. Bring on the smoke
Another option for adding a delicious and unique flavor is adding a smoky flavor and aroma. You can achieve this, even on a gas grill, by adding flavored smoke wood chips like mesquite, apple, cherry, maple or hickory. Smaller chips typically work best on grills because they’re quicker and easier to smoke.
7. Blend them together
For beef or turkey burgers with a healthful twist, chop mushrooms finely and mix with lean ground beef or turkey to create a mushroom-meat blend for grilling. For best results, replace about 25-30% of the meat with mushrooms. The blend is a tasty way to add veggies and flavor to your meal.
8. Dip and top with yogurt
Yogurt dressings are ideal for dipping or topping grilled chicken pieces, kabobs and souvlaki. Greek yogurt makes an ideal tzatziki yogurt dip; just add fresh dill, olive oil, lemon juice and cayenne. Or for a chunky yogurt cucumber topping add chopped cucumber and green onions with a little mint, cumin, and lemon juice to plain yogurt.
9. Spice it up with peppers
Add some heat and some flavor while using less salt. Coat whole chipotle, poblano or jalapeno peppers with olive oil and grill over medium high heat for about 10 minutes each side until charred. Serve whole or chopped as a side dish or condiment.
10. Go easy on the BBQ Sauce
Tomato based BBQ sauces are still the most popular. Regardless of regional variety most contain tomato, vinegar, mustard, and either brown sugar or molasses. Since sugar is typically the first ingredient listed on store bought BBQ sauce labels, try diluting with apple cider vinegar and you’ll use less of the sweet stuff.
Note: Since everyone’s health history and nutritional needs are so different, please make sure that you talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian to get advice about the diet and exercise plan that‘s right for you.