No longer relegated to the summer months, grilling has become a year-round affair-in fact, Chicagoans, who are known for their grilling prowess, often battle wind and snow to get to the barbecue. And whether you're fixing meats or veggies, fruits, or even cakes, grilling is a surefire way to impart bold flavor without a lot of added fat and calories. So, push aside the hot dogs and make room for some of our favorite lighter grilled sides, mains, and sweets.
How to Boost Flavor
Since the intense heat of the grill brings out food's natural flavors, there's no need to cook with a lot of calorie- and fat-laden oil or butter. Instead, use lower-calorie spice- or citrus-based marinades, sauces, and rubs to add flavor. If some fat is necessary to prevent things from sticking, keep your marinades heart-healthy by choosing monounsaturated oils such as olive.
Caution About High Heat
Using high-heat methods, such as grilling and broiling, to cook meat to a char has been found to increase the risks for certain cancers. One culprit is the smoke and flare-ups formed by dripping fat, which deposit carcinogenic substances on the food.
Never fear, though-there are easy ways to avoid these risks when cooking out. Trim as much fat as possible from your meats and ban "well-done" from your grilling vocabulary. Studies have shown, too, that marinades help reduce carcinogen formation on grilled meats.
Utilize Heat Zones
Remember, the grill doesn't just have one temperature-scorching. By arranging and banking the coals (or turning on one gas flame area and not another), you can create different heat zones: cooler for cooking tender veggies and hotter for searing steaks. See our Grilling and Barbecue section for more about how to cook on the barbie.
Reviving Old Standards
Craving a classic? Many cookout favorites are inherently healthy: Think marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts; sturdy fish steaks or fillets that have been brushed with olive oil and seared; lean beef, bison, and turkey burgers; and simple grilled corn with a squeeze of lime.
Want more ideas? Epicurious and Nutrition Data's Healthy Dinner Tonight gives you delicious and nutritious recipes-with full nutritional analysis-and healthy-eating tips every weekday.
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