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Low Fat Summer Grilling - From Memorial Day to Labor Day

Low Fat Grilling and Cookouts

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Low Fat Southwestern Burger

Low Fat Southwestern Burger

Fiona Haynes
It's so easy to overeat in the summer. We fire up the grill at every opportunity and cook countless steaks, hot dogs and burgers; we prepare mounds of potato salad and macaroni salad; and we offer big plates of decadent fudgy brownies and ice cream for dessert. Yet it is possible to have low fat cookouts and picnics without compromising on flavor. So get ready to grill, or spread your picnic blanket, and enjoy some healthier, low fat summer foods.

Lets start with low fat summer cookouts:

Hot Dogs or Hamburgers?

Preferably neither—unless the hot dog is a lower fat, lower sodium, nitrite-free turkey dog, or the burger is made from lean ground beef or lean ground turkey. Here's how to make low fat burgers. Or why not try vegetarian burgers?

Top your low-fat burgers with reduced-fat cheeses or a small amount of strong-flavored cheese. Have plenty of dark, leafy lettuce leaves, tomatoes, onions, avocado and salsa toppings available. For condiments, have light or fat-free mayo on hand, as well as mustard, ketchup, steak sauce, hot sauce, pickles and relish. Use whole-grain buns.

Choose Lean Meats or Fish

Marinated chicken breast, halibut, scallops or shrimp are delicious low-fat grilling fare. Salmon is another great option. While fattier than other fish, it has heart-healthy fats that can easily fit in with our low-fat eating plans. Just monitor portion sizes, and eat lowe-fat side dishes and condiments. If you're eating chicken, cook it with the skin on, but remove it before eating.

Opt for lean cuts of beef. Flank steak, filet mignon, top loin or round are good choices. Use marinades to add flavor and also to tenderize the meat. Lean cuts of pork and lamb are fine, too. For lean, read “loin.” Trim all visible fat before cooking.

As important as it is not to undercook your food, be careful not to char your meat either, as two cancer-causing agents, Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PCAs), can form in the presence of fat and extreme heat. This is another good reason to use marinades, as the marinade forms a barrier between the meat and the heat.

Marinades and Rubs

The key to succulent, flavorful meat is the marinade or rub. Use heart-healthy monounsaturated oils in your marinades or for brushing food. Olive oil and canola oil are excellent choices.

Make your own marinades where possible. This helps control the fat and sodium content. It needn’t be complicated—a basic blend of oil, lemon or lime juice and herbs is all you need as a base. For an Asian accent, use some reduced-sodium soy sauce, grated ginger and garlic. For a Southwestern flavor, use cumin, chiles, and cilantro. Honey with mustard is another simple yet flavorful option. If you’ve got ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and molasses, make your own barbecue sauce, too. Give it some heat with some hot sauce.

One caveat, however: be sure to remove excess marinade from the meat, as too much can cause flare-ups on the grill and burn the meat, which negates the protective benefit of the marinade. Marinades with a high sugar content—yep, that Barbecue sauce, for instance, should be used only in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.

Kebabs

Not only are kebabs delicious, they are also a great way to eat vegetables and balance your meat consumption. You can eat your steak, but perhaps less of it when it’s competing for space with some delicious chunks of vegetables. Thread pre-soaked wooden skewers with your choice of meat or firm fish, alternating with vegetables such as zucchini, cherry tomatoes, peppers, red onion and mushrooms. Brush with a low fat marinade of your choice and grill away. Grill vegetables by themselves, either on skewers or in a basket. Brush with a little balsamic vinegar to enhance the flavor.

See Next Page for Low Fat Salads, Sides and Desserts >>>

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