Each summer we tend to spend less time preparing meals inside and more time heating up the grill outside with family and friends.  The aroma of a delicious slab of ribs on a hot grill in action is enough to tempt the taste buds of the entire neighborhood.  So go ahead, grab a cold drink and fire up your grill because you can’t beat the taste of dinner hot off the grill! Before you go crazy with hot dogs, ribs, burgers and steaks, take a few tips from registered dietician nutritionist Ilana Muhlstein, who offers some healthy ideas for grilling.

Healthy Options

“Don’t be afraid to grill fish! So often, people associate a barbeque dinner with loads of meat, but grilling fish either in foil or on a cedar plank is an incredibly delicious and decadent, yet healthier option.” Cedar planks are available at most gourmet grocery stores and many contain recipes on the packaging.

“Go crazy with those veggies! Slice up and grill thick slabs of zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower steaks, red onion, portabella mushrooms, bell pepper halves, asparagus spears, and even whole carrots and parsnips! Brush with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and grill low and slow until the vegetables caramelize. To add a bit of pizzazz, drizzle the grilled vegetables with balsamic vinegar right before serving. They will add wonderful flavor and color to your spread.“ Try grilling lettuces for a new take on salad.

“Forget about buying those white sugar buns!” Muhlstein can’t understand why people still buy them for their barbecues when nobody touches them and they end up getting eaten by flies.  She recommends choosing healthier, high fiber complex carbohydrates for your barbeque.  Foods like sweet potatoes and grilled corn on the cob add wonderful color and flavor to your meal.   When grilling corn, soak the corn in the husks in lightly salted water before grilling them to prevent the corn from drying out.

Protect Yourself from Harmful Carcinogens 

Each time you grill, check your grill grates and make sure they are clean and free of charred food.  Carcinogens left on the grates are harmful to your health.  Keep a grill brush with your grill tools and scrub it clean each time.  In addition, studies show that carcinogens are greatly reduced after marinating meat.  There is still some question as to why this happens, but it is something to enjoy.  Embrace the extra flavor you’ll get from delicious marinades.

Dessert Can Be Healthy Too

Try grilling peaches or plums for a healthy dessert.  Half and pit the peaches and plums.  Place them fruit side down on the grill.  Grill for a few minutes and top with a dab of butter if desired.  Garnish with fresh herbs like basil, mint or thyme.  Serve with ice cream for extra sweetness.