Nothing says summer quite like a savory, fire-roasted meal. Big on flavor without added fat and calories, smart grilling is the ideal companion to a healthful summer eating plan.
Rub In Flavor
Bacon on your steak? Never! Buttery sauces for the fish? No way! Leave the added fat behind and try a dry rub to add a ton of flavor without adding calories.
Dry rub recipes for meat, fish and poultry abound on the Internet, so there’s no reason not to make your own. In fact, some regional cuisines are based on the distinctive flavors of their fabulous rubs — think Memphis dry rub barbecue, or Jamaican Jerk specialties.
A good rub starts with top-quality ingredients. Fresh ground black pepper, and dried herbs and spices that still have their rich aroma are key. If that bottle of basil smells like bland tea leaves, toss it out — dried spices have a shelf-life of about a year.
You’ll use between a half tablespoon and one tablespoon rub per cut. Most rub recipes make a lot, so store the remainder in an airtight container to use next time.
To get the rub to stick, coat each cut with unsweetened apple juice, citrus juice (lemon, lime or orange), balsamic or white wine vinegar. Pat the rub in place to make a thin coating over the entire cut and you’re ready to grill.
For a more intense flavor, coat with rub and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours.
Fire up Fruits and Veggies!
Grilling isn’t just for meat and fish. Cooking over an open flame brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables and adds a delightful smoky tang to fruits as well. The secret is to choose foods that are tender and cook quickly, and then cut them into uniform pieces — no more than ¾ to 1 inch think.
Soak vegetables in cold water for 30 minutes before grilling to keep them from drying out. Pat dry and coat with cooking spray, then toss on the grill or in a grill basket. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, peppers and squash are especially good on the grill. Mushrooms, asparagus and corn on the cob also taste great grilled.
Pineapple, peaches, pears and plums all take on a wonderful flavor when grilled. Cut pineapple into rings. Halve and pit the others and brush all with fresh juice before placing on the grill. A grill basket or pan will keep smaller pieces from falling into the fire.
Keep watch over fruits and vegetables on the grill to avoid overcooking. Then sit back and enjoy a smoky bounty even the kids will love!
Go Beyond Burgers
Variety is not only the spice of life, it’s the secret to maintaining a healthy, slimmed down lifestyle as well. If your grill has never seen more than burgers, hot dogs and the occasional rack of ribs, it’s time to expand your thinking and get a bit adventurous.
Seafood, lamb, tofu and even portabello mushrooms offer rich, savory alternatives to traditional backyard fare. Pair them up with flavorful rubs, fresh herbs or citrusy marinades for a simple gourmet treat that’s long on flavor and short on fat and calories.
The possibilities are endless. Use your imagination and let your palate be your guide as you rediscover the oldest and most basic form of cooking known to man. It’s time to get grillin’!