Healthy Grilling: Take this summertime favorite to the next level
By Bryan Federwitz
Food Services Supervisor, Ministry Saint Mary’s Hospital
Spring is in the air; the sun is warm, the birds are singing, and the grills are getting dusted off after another long winter.
Grilling is a favorite activity for many people, especially during the spring and summer. There are many things to enjoy about grilling; the open flame, the fresh air, and of course, the delicious food. Although grilling is a great way to prepare meals, it’s always important to prepare these meals from a healthy perspective.
One of the first things to think about when cooking any meal is safety. When grilling, ensure your grill is cleaned before use preventing any bacteria from contaminating the food that is placed on the grates. Also, separate your meats from your veggies. By using different utensils like knives and cutting boards for your meats and vegetables, you can reduce the risk of cross contamination, keeping you safe from harmful bacteria. Meats also need to be cooked to a safe internal cooking temperature. Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 degrees, hamburgers to 160 degrees, and steaks to 145 degrees. To ensure your meat is fully cooked, use a food thermometer to measure its internal temperature.
When selecting your meat, choose lean cuts of meat such as top round steak, top sirloin steak, or chicken breasts with the skin removed. You may also try trimming the fat off meat before grilling to reduce your calorie and fat intake. Try avoiding large portions of meat, for one serving is three ounces or about the size of a deck of cards.
Grilling is not always about the meat. Mixing in vegetables and fruit will maximize our nutrient intake and keep our bodies healthy. Try grilling pineapple rings or use a variety of your favorite fruits to make grilled fruit kabobs, my favorite is grilled peaches. On the vegetable side, one of my favorites is fajita veggies grilled alongside my steak or chicken. Remember to eat a variety of colorful veggies to get different vitamins and other nutrients, while making half of your plate fruits and veggies. Grilling them is a great way to make them delicious and nutritious.
Grilling outside can be a great way to make healthy and delicious food. Choosing lean cuts of meat and proper portion sizes ensures lower fat consumption; while adding veggies or fruits to our grilled meals provide a great way to complete the plate and boost our nutrition. Many people grill throughout the warmer months, and it is a great way to be outside and gather with friends and family, just remember to “balance the grate”.