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Lighten Up Your Summer BBQ with Healthy Grilled Food



Healthy grilled food is perfect for the whole family.


Nothing says summer like a backyard BBQ. This season, why not skip the hamburgers and hot dogs and whip up some lighter alternatives? For a better-for-you BBQ, try these flavorful and healthy grilled food options.


Grilled Veggie Sandwiches


Trying to eat more veggies? Give this BBQ recipe a try: Spray a mixture of sliced seasonal vegetables, such as onions, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, portobello mushrooms, and asparagus, with nonstick cooking spray. Season lightly with sea salt and pepper and grill over high heat for five to six minutes, or until tender. Serve on whole-grain burger buns for additional satisfying fiber that can help you feel full for hours.


Shrimp Skewers


Grilling doesn't have to be all about the meat. Six large shrimp contain only 30 calories and are practically fat free. Plus, these crustaceans only take minutes to prepare. For maximum flavor, marinate them in soy sauce and fresh ginger, thread on skewers, and grill for two minutes per side.


Turkey Burgers


Love burgers? No problem. Trade your beefburger for a turkey burger. Generally, turkey burgers are lower in calories and fat than traditional beefburgers, including saturated fat, a kind of fat that can raise harmful LDL cholesterol.


Citrus Coleslaw


If coleslaw is your go-to side, swap the heavy mayo-based dressing for a lighter citrus vinaigrette. Simply mix equal parts lime juice, rice wine vinegar, and canola oil and toss with prepackaged coleslaw mix. You'll gain heart-friendly omega-3 fats courtesy of the canola oil, plus a healthy dose of vitamin C from the lime juice.


Grilled Tuna Sandwiches


Experts recommend eating two, 3.5-ounce servings of fish each week for optimal heart health. However, few of us meet our quota. Sneak in a serving with a grilled tuna sandwich. This meaty fish makes for a tasty beef stand-in, and also provides heart-healthy omega-3 fats. For extra tang, top yours with a slice of grilled pineapple or a spoonful of mango salsa.


Chickpea and Tomato Salad


Potato salad may be a BBQ staple, but it often contains a lot of high-fat mayonnaise, so it's not always the healthiest choice. Toss up a chickpea and tomato salad instead. You'll gain extra fiber plus potassium, a mineral that can help regulate blood pressure. You can whip it up in fewer than five minutes. Simply combine rinsed, drained canned chickpeas, halved grape tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and chopped fresh basil and, voila, you have a filling side dish you can feel good about.


Grilled Corn


Corn is one of summer's true pleasures. Make the most of this in-season treat by roasting it on the grill. Wrap shucked corn ears in foil and grill over medium heat for 20 minutes, turning frequently. Then, skip the butter and brush each ear lightly with olive oil. Season with chili powder, sea salt, and pepper to taste.


Grilled Chicken Over Greens


When you're trying to eat less red meat, skinless chicken breast can be a smart choice. Four ounces serve up nearly 26 grams of muscle-building protein for only 136 calories and less than a gram of saturated fat. For an added nutrition boost, serve your chicken over a bed of vitamin A-rich baby spinach tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.


For a good-for-you BBQ that tastes terrific, share these ideas for healthy grilled food with the entire family!


By Karen Ansel, MS, RDN





Health, 18 Health Benefits of Whole Grains


USDA, Food Composition Database


American Heart Association, The Skinny on Fats


American Heart Association, Eating Fish for Heart Health


American Heart Association, Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids


National Institutes of Health, Vitamin A

These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.