Summertime means grilling time—time with family and friends and time to enjoy delicious foods. There are all kinds of tasty foods to grill up, plus those sides, desserts and drinks that round out the meal. The American Heart Association and Go Red want you to keep these important tips in mind to help you grill “fat-sensibly” through the summer season.
Meat, Poultry and Fish Grilling Tips
Grill fish more often.
- Go for grilled fish more often. The healthiest types include salmon, trout and herring, which are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Use lean cuts of meat and remove the fat.
- Buy chicken breasts—and remember to remove the skin before eating—instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs). Or try grilling up chicken or turkey burgers using breast meat, and add diced onions for another layer of flavor.
- What cut of meat to buy? Choose “loin” and “round” cuts of red meat and pork. And buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef instead of “prime.” While these have the least amount of fat, don’t forget to trim the fat when you get home.
- Use a rack so the fat drips away from the food.
Salads and Sides
Serve fruit and vegetable salads topped with nuts.
- Go green… and red, orange, yellow, purple and more. Serve green leafy salads or fruit salads (or a combination of both, like baby spinach with strawberries or mixed greens with orange slices) instead of mayonnaise-based salads. Add some crunch—and healthier fats—with some toasted walnuts or almonds instead of croutons.
Use olive oil and vinegar or low- to no-fat dressings.
- Multi-task with one bottle…Use reduced-fat, low-fat, light or no-fat salad dressings (if you need to limit your calories) on salads.
- Olive oil and balsamic vinegar make a delicious, natural salad dressing.
Grill vegetables like asparagus, zucchini, peppers or tomatoes.
- Fill your plate with grilled vegetables or try grilling vegetables on skewers with kabobs. The more delicious vegetable options there are, the easier it is to eat heart-healthy.
- Try topping your grilled veggies with fresh cilantro or basil for added flavor and appeal.
Offer raw veggies like cucumber, carrot and broccoli.
- Instead of potato chips, which can be high in saturated and trans fats, serve raw veggies like cucumber, carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes and broccoli and cauliflower florets with a low-fat dip.
Drinks and Desserts
Drink water or unsweetened iced tea.
- Drink water, unsweetened iced tea or diet soda. Regular sodas are loaded with sugars and calories.
Try fresh fruit, grilled fruit or smoothies for dessert.
- A smoothie with luscious fresh fruit in season, fat-free vanilla or lemon yogurt and a touch of honey makes a healthy, refreshing dessert alternative.
- Try grilling fruits like pineapple slices, nectarines, peaches or plums—the natural sugars caramelize with the heat and give them great flavor. Fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber—and they’re low in calories.
- Top fruit or smoothies with fresh mint for added flavor and appeal.
Avoid baked goods.
- Cut back on commercially baked foods, like cookies, pies and cakes. Remember that most store-baked goods are made with egg yolks, butter or shortening and other ingredients that are high in saturated fat and/or trans fat.
Seasonings and More
Avoid seasonings and sauces.
- Watch the salt—cut back on salty seasonings and condiments like teriyaki, soy and barbecue sauce.
Choose low-to no-fat cheese.
- Choose low-fat, reduced-fat or fat-free cheese for your sandwiches and hamburgers.
Choose whole-grain breads and rolls, such as whole wheat.
- Choose whole-grain, high-fiber breads and rolls, such as whole wheat, oats, oatmeal, whole rye, whole-grain corn and buckwheat. In addition to being good for you, they add more flavor and texture to your meal.