Healthy Grilling: Low Calorie and Low-Fat Recipes for the Barbecue

Pump up the flavor in your food using fire, not fat

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 on your barbecue grill 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 guide 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.

Hot Mains

Smokin' Sides

Sizzling Sweets

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