We're in the midst of summer and grilling season. Everyone loves something grilled whether it's that juicy steak, burgers or veggies. With the high heat involved with open flames there are some guidelines I'll give you today to keep your food healthy.
Make your own marinade - Store bought marinades are filled with sugars and other ingredients that increase charring. Charring is not good for you. Stick with homemade marinades with vinegar and lemon juice.
Try to use grass fed meats - Factory farms use drugs on their animals that may not react well to high heat. Use clean meats whenever possible.
Drop the aluminum foil - It may seem the easiest way to cook food on the grill, but aluminum can leach at high temps. You don't want in your food. Use a cast iron skillet, grill baskets, or wood instead.
Precook your food - finish off your food on the grill to get that "outside" flavor. This will prevent undercooked meals and reduce charring.
Now that we know how to grill in a healthy way, let's look at some recipes.
If you've never tried grilled lettuce, you are in for a treat. Don't forget the salad at your next BBQ.
1 or more head of romaine lettuce
olive oil (or avocado oil)
ground black pepper
Clean grill grates and heat grill to 450-500 degrees.
While grill heats up, rinse romaine and shake gently to remove as much water as possible; gently pat dry.
Cut lengthwise so each head is in two separate pieces and leaves are held together by the stem.
Brush both sides with olive or avocado oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place cut-side down on grill on direct heat (directly over flame) and let cook for 2-3 minutes or until lettuce has grill marks. Try not to char.
Gently flip over and grill other side for 1-2 minutes.
Remove and serve with olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper or however you desire
This simple recipe will "wow" your family. Creamy, melty goat cheese on zucchini with marinara will make a very nice side.
4 medium-sized zucchini
1 5- ounce log goat cheese
1-2 cups marinara sauce (no or low sugar)
chopped parsley (for garnish (optional)
Set grill to 400F.
Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, leaving the zucchini hollowed out. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and place on baking sheet.
Using half of goat cheese, spread a small amount in the bottom of each zucchini. Spoon marinara sauce on top, then dot with remaining goat cheese.
Grill or bake until goat cheese is soft and marinara is bubbling, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Nutrient dense eggplant is great alone or used as a bun.
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil
3 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices and generously salt each slice. Let them rest for about 15 minutes so that the salt can draw out the moisture and bitterness. Wipe each of the slices with a paper towel to remove the salt and moisture.
Preheat the barbecue to medium heat
In a large dish combine the olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper. Place each of the eggplant slices in the dish, flipping them over to ensure both sides are covered in oil.
Grill for approximately 6 minutes per side until golden in colour with grill marks. If the eggplant slices become dry and stick to the grill, brush them with more oil.
Once the eggplant is tender and cooked. Remove from the grill and return back to oil, herb and garlic mixture in the pan. Flip once so that both sides are coated before transferring to a serving platter. Spoon any of the excess herbs & garlic overtop before serving. The eggplant can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature and will last for up to 4 days in the fridge.
COCONUT CILANTRO CHICKEN
Try a new flavor combo the next time you grill chicken.
2 lbs chicken thighs, skinless, bone in (boneless)
1/2 cup coconut milk, light
1/2 lime, juice of
1/4 red onion, medium
1/2 tsp salt
Jalapeño to taste (I used 1/3 of a medium one)
Avocado oil spray
To make marinade: In a food processor (Magic Bullet) combine all ingredients except chicken and process until smooth mixture is formed.
Wash chicken thighs under cold running water, pat dry with paper towels and pierce randomly with a small knife. Add to a medium bowl or any container that can be covered. Pour marinade over chicken, mix with your hands to coat the meat evenly, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Discard marinade before cooking.
Preheat the grill on high using both burners. After preheating, turn the left burner off leaving the right burner on. Place marinated chicken on a left burner side (indirect heat) sprayed with cooking spray. Close the grill lid and cook for 20 minutes. Turn chicken over, close the lid and cook for another 20 minutes. Place on a right burner side (direct heat) to get some cool grill marks. Serve warm.
GREEK TURKEY BURGERS
We've all heard that we should limit our red meat consumption. Try ground turkey the next time you are craving a burger.
7 oz. plain Greek yogurt
1 medium fresh lemon
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp dried dill
1.25 lb. ground turkey
6 halves sun dried tomatoes
1 medium red onion
2 oz. frozen spinach
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp minced garlic
½ cup almond flour
1 large egg
1 medium cucumber
to taste salt and pepper
Prepare the yogurt sauce by combining the yogurt, 1/4 tsp minced garlic, dry dill, juice of half the lemon and a dash of salt. Stir everything to combine and then refrigerate to allow the flavors to blend while you make the burgers.
Thaw the frozen spinach and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Roughly chop the spinach to prevent long stringy pieces. Also chop the sun dried tomatoes and 1/4 of the red onion.
In a bowl combine the ground turkey with the spinach, sun dried tomatoes, red onion, feta, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, dried oregano, egg, bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Stir everything until it is evenly combined. Shape the mixture into six patties.
Cook the burgers over open flame. Spread the yogurt sauce on both sides of a bun or lettuce wrap add a warm burger and top with thin slices of red onion and cucumber. Enjoy!
TOMATO AVOCADO BURGERS
Good fats all around in this burger version. Using grass fed beef and avocados is the key to this burger version.
4 large tomatoes
1 lb grass fed organic ground beef
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ + ¼ teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 ripe avocado, divided
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon mayo
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally. With the handle-end of a spoon or a fork, scoop out the seeds and seeds membrane. Set aside.
Place half of the avocado in a bowl and mash with a fork until almost smooth. Add yogurt, mayo, lime juice and cumin and stir to combine. Dice remaining half of the avocado and add it alongside ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir gently to combine. Set aside.
In a bowl season ground beef with ½ teaspoon of salt, black pepper and chili powder and mix well.
Divide into equal 4 portions and gently shape each portion into ½-inch thick patty.
Preheat grill (or grill pan) to medium-high heat. Grill patties 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.
In the meantime, lightly grease with olive oil a medium non-stick pan/skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Cook halved tomatoes face down for 2 to 3 minutes, until they begin to brown.
Flip and cook for 20 seconds on the other side so that they get a bit of color.
To assemble burgers place a beef patty, about 2 tablespoons of avocado sauce and finish with the other half of each tomato.
We can't forget a sweet treat to finish off our BBQ. These grilled peaches will finish off your meal nicely.
3 medium ripe peaches, cut in half with pit removed
1 tsp vanilla
1 can coconut milk, refrigerated
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Ceylon Cinnamon (to taste)
Place peaches on the grill with the cut side down first. Grill on medium-low heat until soft, about 3-5 minutes on each side.
Scoop cream off the top of the can of chilled coconut milk. Whip together coconut cream and vanilla with handheld mixer. Drizzle over each peach. Top with cinnamon and chopped walnuts to garnish.
Take these suggestions to heart the next time you heat up your grill. You want to reap the most benefit out of your healthy food:
clean your grill - don't let carcinogens build up
flip at the right time - cook without burning - if the meat pulls easily with a light tug without falling apart it's time to flip
use lean meats to avoid flare ups and smoke
try to avoid the burn, but if you have charred sections, remove them - you don't want to consume carcinogens
Grilling is fun and delicious. With a little prep and attention you can enjoy summer meals in a healthy way. Remember to include 75% of your plate from plants. Grill them along with your protein.
Here's to your health! Happy Grilling!