Summer is the perfect time to break out the grill, but beware of the creamy sauces and sugary marinades that can add unnecessary fat and calories. Check out these grilling tips to help you enjoy BBQ season while keeping your dinners lean and healthy. 


Use Bold Ingredients to Add Flavor to Sauces and Marinades

Adding bold flavors to any meal doesn’t mean you have to  add large amounts of calories or fat. Some popular and healthy ingredients for sauces and marinades are as follows: tomato paste, molasses, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. 

A Little Sweetness Goes a Long Way!

A sweet ingredient, such as brown sugar, agave, honey or molasses can be a great addition to any marinade or sauce. Not only does it add a sweet flavor to your marinade or sauce, but it also helps balance out the other bold spices used. Use caution when adding a sweet ingredient to liven up your sauce or marinade because too much can cause the meat to burn when grilled over high heat. Using less will also add less sugar and calories. 

Large Resealable Plastic Bags are Perfect for Marinating!

One of the easiest ways to marinate meat of any kind or vegetables is to place them in a large, resealable plastic bag. For easier use, place the bag in a medium sized bowl, then sprinkle the marinade over the food until the food is surrounded by the marinade. Eliminate any excess air by tightly sealing the bag. Keep marinating in the refrigerator until you are ready to toss the food on the grill. 

Grill Some Vegetables

The best part about grilling vegetables is that you do not have to worry about overcooking them. Whole mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, asparagus spears, and corn on the cob are just a few of the vegetables that are perfect to use on the grill. A helpful hint when grilling vegetables is to cut them into shapes and sizes that cook well on the grill. Marinate veggies prior to grilling to help them caramelize, which will bring out the strongest flavors.  Simply place the vegetables in marinade for about an hour. If you are short on time, lightly coat the vegetables with a little olive oil or canola oil. Vegetables usually take about 8-10 minutes to cook when placed over direct medium heat. Just make sure to turn frequently. Look for grill marks and some light browning to ensure that the vegetables are ready.

Like the Skin? Think Again! 

Chicken breasts and thighs contain half of the fat and saturated fat in the skin; therefore, try grilling skinless chicken for a healthier option. If you cook the chicken with the skin on and then take it off when it is time to eat, you will lose all of the flavor from your marinade, sauce, or seasonings. For best results, marinade skinless chicken breasts and thighs for about 2 hours in the refrigerator. Grill the chicken over direct high or medium heat until it is cooked throughout. Be sure to check the thickest part of the chicken breast or thigh for doneness. Chicken can also be cooked over indirect heat; however, it will take longer. 

Lean Meat, Trim Fat, and Marinade

A significant amount of fat and saturated fat can also be cut by using lean beef and pork and trimming off any visible fat before grilling. Lower-fat marinades with acid ingredients are good when grilling lean meat because it helps break down the tough fibers. On top of that, it adds a large amount of flavor to the meat, too! Unfortunately when grilling meats, marinades are only skin deep and tenderize the surface of the meat only about 1?4 of an inch. Make sure your marinade covers the entire surface of the meat to ensure the greatest flavor. It can also help to score the meat before coating it with marinade to allow it to have more flavor. 

Sensible Serving Sizes 

By now we have drilled into your mind to eat smaller portions and grilling meat is no different! Grilling meat in smaller portions can help you control portion sizes. Try eating 1?4 pound burgers, filet mignon sized steaks, kabobs with small pieces of meat, and link sausage cut in half lengthwise. Also, when cooking large pieces of meat, cut the slices smaller when serving to guests to encourage sensible serving sizes.