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5 summer grilling ideas to make your barbecues healthy and delicious

Summer is the season for outdoor grilling, which can be a time to enjoy healthy and fresh food with friends and family. While grilling is a generally healthful cooking technique, there are ways to take your barbeque to the next level and make it even healthier. Enjoying summer barbeques does not mean compromising your healthy eating plan. How about this summer we plan fun and safe outdoor gatherings that are consistent with our goals to eat well?

Choose the right protein

While burgers and hot dogs are common go-to options for backyard barbeques, there are so many nutritious options for grilled proteins. Consider choices that are lean and lower in saturated fat like skinless chicken breast skewers, turkey burgers, salmon and shrimp. Plus, plant-based choices like tofu and veggie burgers are rich in protein for those opting for a meatless meal.

Avoid charring the meat

Meat cooked at high temperatures for longer periods of time are more likely to form potentially carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). You can reduce the production of HCAs in grilled meats by taking a few precautionary steps. Avoid flare-ups during grilling, which are known to increase smoke and charring of the meat. This can be done with better grilling temperature control, smaller pieces of meat that require less cooking time and the use of leaner cuts of meat.

Don’t forget the veggies and fruit

It’s not unusual for vegetables to be a second thought at many barbeques. However, this is the perfect time to take advantage of local produce that is in season now. Grilled veggies like corn, mushrooms, bell pepper, summer squash and romaine hearts are nutrient-dense and crowd-pleasing among health-conscious guests. Toss fresh peach halves, watermelon or mango slices on the grilled and serve them up with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs. If you prefer your produce uncooked, opt for fresh seasonal salads or a crudité plate.

Mind Your sauces and condiments

Bottled barbecue and teriyaki sauces can be loaded with excess sugar and salt. Try making your own marinades and sauces with ingredients that pack a nutrient punch like turmeric, ginger, cumin, cayenne, garlic and extra virgin olive oil along with other low-calorie fixings like mustard, vinegar and salsa. Try adding fresh avocado, onion, sauerkraut and fresh leafy greens in place of high-calorie and high in saturated fat toppings like cheese, mayo and ranch dressing.

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