Rethinking the Grill: A New Spin on One of America’s Favorite Pastimes
Mention outdoor grilling and most of us immediately think sizzling steaks, ribs, hamburgers, chicken or maybe a salmon steak. Think again, says dietitian Vicki Saunders, MS, RD.
"Grilling doesn’t have to be exclusively about meat, seafood or poultry. There are many candidates for the grill that can serve as main attractions or savory side dishes," says Saunders, Nutrition Educator at Transformations, St. Helena Center For Health’s weight and lifestyle management program in the Napa Valley of Northern California.
"We need to rethink the grill," says Saunders. "Many Americans still think of it as a one-dimensional medium, hardwired for cooking hotdogs, hamburgers and other standard fare. The surprising fact is, many foods lend themselves to grilling very nicely."
Want the satisfying texture and taste of meat without the saturated fat? Try grilling Portobello mushrooms brushed with marinade, suggests Saunders. "Serve it on a fresh sourdough bun slightly toasted on the grill, dressed with sliced tomato, onion, lettuce or other favorite condiments, and you’ve got a burger anyone would love!"
Or how about skewered ribbons of thinly sliced seitan, commonly called wheat meat, a low fat protein-rich meat substitute made from wheat gluten? "Marinate them as you would any meat and grill until hot and browned (about 10 minutes). Serve with a side of brown rice and grilled squash for a healthy and satisfying summer meal." She notes that wheat meat is clearly not an option for people with wheat allergies.
Other grilling superstars include vegetable kabobs, polenta slices, potatoes or yams that are sliced or wedged, and corn on the cob. Brush the potatoes and yams with a mixture of salt, pepper, your favorite spices and a healthful oil like olive or canola. These vegetables can be cooked on skewers, directly on the grill, or wrapped in heavy foil packets and placed on the grill. For the adventurous, Saunders suggests rubbing salt and red chili pepper on the corn with a wedge of lime while it’s still hot. You can even make pizza on a grill with your own homemade dough or packaged pita bread for the crust. Top with vegetables and reduced fat mozzarella cheese.
And while we’re rethinking the grill, why not think desserts? "The grill is a wonderful medium for preparing desserts that will surprise and please," says Saunders. "We’re only limited by our imagination." Proven winners include fruits like sliced bananas, figs, peaches and apple rings. Another outdoor favorite: grilled slices of pineapple and fat free pound cake, served stacked. "Eye pleasing, aromatic, healthy, delicious and fun," says Saunders. "It’s what outdoor grilling is all about!"
For meatless grilling ideas and recipes visit: www.shhtransformations.com/recipes
Source: St. Helena Center For Health