Wellness and prevention information from the experts at the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

A healthy spin on summer grilling

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By Jeannie Paris, RD, LD

Summer in Minnesota brings family reunions, outdoor cookouts and weekends at a cabin or camping with friends and family. These events tend to center around food, and often times we find ourselves gathering around an outdoor grill.

By late summer, you may be tired of the usual hamburgers, hotdogs or chicken breasts, but grilling isn’t just for meat or veggie burgers. You can cook up many foods that you may not have thought about. With fresh, local produce arriving at farmers’ markets, this is the perfect time to put a new spin on your grilling techniques!

  • Pizza is a favorite of many, and grilling your next homemade pizza eliminates using the oven. Choose the right toppings, and you have a healthy, delicious meal! Start with a whole wheat crust, spread it with tomato, pesto sauce or olive oil, and pile on sliced veggies such as broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and peppers. Add some lean meat or low-fat feta or mozzarella cheese if desired. Place the pizza directly on the grill, close the lid and wait for desired doneness. Then slice and enjoy!
  • Many of the summer veggies are delicious grilled! You can lightly coat asparagus spears with olive oil and spices, and lay the spears on the grill crosswise for about 5 minutes. Zucchini and summer squash are easy to grill as well. They can be cut lengthwise into quarters, brushed with olive oil and grilled to desired tenderness.
  • Foil packets are an easy way to grill veggies that are too small to place directly on the grill, such as carrots, tomatoes, onions, green beans, mushrooms and peppers. Use heavy-duty foil and spray one side with cooking spray, add veggies and spices, completely close the packet and place on the grill. Flip the packet once during cooking and expect cooking time to be 25-30 minutes.
  • Fresh fruit grilled is a sweet summertime treat! Try a whole, peeled banana, and slices of peach, apple, pineapple or pear directly on the grill. Larger slices are best to prevent burning. Add grilled fruits to a salad, top your protein source with them, or enjoy them as a side dish or a sweet, healthy dessert.

Just thinking about grilling fresh veggies and fruit has my mouth watering so I’ll be heading to a farmers’ market this week for some local veggies to put on my grill!

For more healthy recipes, visit Allina Health’s recipe page.

Jeannie Paris, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietician with the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing’s LiveWell Fitness Center.

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