Healthy Grilling Alternatives

With summer getting into full swing and July 4th around the corner, cooking is moving from indoor kitchens to outdoor barbecues. But that doesn't mean you have to stop eating a healthy diet. Whether you're a vegetarian looking for some ideas for vegetarian grilling or just want something a bit lighter on the grill, take a look at these ideas.

Go with lots of flavors, less meat - If you pack the flavor into a marinade or sauce, you'll be able to enjoy a helping of meat without needing seconds. Tomato paste, soy sauce, chili sauce, and Worcestershire sauce can all add a lot of depth to a marinade. Adding something sweet like molasses, brown sugar, or honey is also a great way to sweeten-up your marinade. Just make sure not to over do it or you'll risk burning your food. Also, use resealable plastic bags or plastic wrap when marinating your meat or vegetables to lock-in as much flavor as possible. For easy and delicious options, check out these marinade recipes from my appearance on NBC's Today Show.

Stick to leaner meats - A barbecue doesn't necessarily have to be about beef and pork-leaner meats like turkey and chicken are great alternatives. For an even leaner meal, remove the skin before grilling. You can also get a lot of flavor out of grilled squid with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Also from the sea, swordfish or salmon grill well and are extra delicious after soaking in a marinade.

Fill up on sides - Being at a barbeque doesn't mean you only have to eat meat. Sometimes, the sides can be the best part of the meal. You'll be safe piling your plate with a green summer salad or a vegan watermelon and radish salad. When your focus is mostly on the grill, try some of these no-cook vegetarian options. A crisp salad or vegetable can perfectly offset the heavier barbeque offerings.

Grill something new - You might think there are only a few things to grill: meat, vegetables, or fruits. But if you think of your barbecue in a different way, you can cook all sorts of things. Trying grilling a grilled cheese filled with healthy vegetables and condiments. Or you can grill a quesadilla, like this eggplant and pepper variation. A thin-crust pizza will also benefit from the charred and smoky flavor if you choose to grill it. To keep it healthy, try this whole-wheat kale and mozzarella pizza.

What are your healthy grilling tips?

Photo: woodleywonderworks