Published on June 02, 2016

Fire Up The Grill For A Healthy Summer

If you grill it, they will come. Want to entice friends, family and neighbors this year? Then fire up the grill. Nothing says celebration and relaxation better than a good summertime barbecue.

The past Memorial Day weekend likely prompted many of us to brush off the grill. I am always excited to kick off the grilling season, which means my husband does more of the cooking, we don’t heat up the house and the clean-up is minimal. Plus, foods cooked on the grill can be healthful and tasty. If you can eat it, you can probably grill it!

Here are some grilling tips for the customary favorites as well as some ideas for the more non-traditional foods.

  • Turn down the heat and cut the fat for the best results when grilling meats, chicken and fish. The high heat from the grill and the fat from the meat can lead to charring or excess smoke, which have been linked to certain cancer-causing compounds. Trim the fat from your meat, remove the skin, flip frequently, cook outside the flame and think low and slow to get the best-tasting and most-healthful results.
  • Spice up your hamburgers. Select lean ground beef and then add some flavor by adding oregano or other herbs, chopped onions, peppers, mushrooms, feta cheese or dry ranch dressing. Healthy alternatives such as turkey burgers, black bean burgers and Portobello mushroom burgers can be a hit, too!
  • Marinating provides flavorful options for meat. My personal homemade favorite combines pineapple juice, soy sauce, onion powder and sage, and is delicious on pork. Try juices, beer, wine, green tea or an all-purpose marinade recipe at
  • Tasty vegetables on the grill make the perfect side dishes. We love using a grill basket and often fill it with seasonal veggies such as summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, onions or mushrooms. All we do is toss these with a little olive oil and basil. If you don’t have a basket, just season your favorite veggies with herbs and place them directly on the grill or wrap in foil and grill.
  • Don’t forget about fresh corn on the cob or potatoes. Corn can be cooked on the grill quickly, easily and makes mouths water just thinking about it. Toss potatoes on the grill either alone or diced in a basket. Nutritious sweet potatoes add pizzazz to any meal. Top these grilled potatoes with cinnamon, or grill until tender and mash them with nutmeg and a touch of brown sugar.
  • Dessert goes on the grill too! For dessert, try grilled watermelon drizzled with a little honey or make a fruit kabob. Peach halves or pineapple slices grilled over low heat until just golden, taste delicious with angel food cake or low-fat ice cream.
  • Grill safely! Always remember the safety aspect of grilling. Use a food thermometer, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot, discard leftover marinade, and wash your hands and utensils frequently. Here is a great link for more on food safety:

Did you know there’s an app for food safety? Download the “Is My Food Safe?” app from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is available for Android and Apple devices on their respective app stores.

This article first appeared in the Owensboro Messenger-Inquire.

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At Owensboro Health, you’ll get nutrition counseling from a registered nutritionist — an expert in medical nutrition therapy. Beth Cecil, RDN, LD (right), is certified in food allergy management and is a Lifestyle Coach for the Diabetes Prevention Program. She also holds a Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Management, so you can trust her to care for your or your loved one’s specialized needs.

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital, the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.

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