Making a Fresh Start
When Jillian arrived in Bakersfield to visit the Mays family, she found a refrigerator representative of many American households. It was loaded with processed foods, high fat condiments, sugary drinks and sauces and LOTS of empty calories.
Making a fresh start and turning this around not only means parting with familiar labels and products, it also means saying hello to many healthier choices – lean proteins, whole grains and tons of fresh fruits and vegetables – which is exactly what Ruth did.
This is the perfect time of year to make this transition at your house, since fresh produce is in peak season. The number of fresh fruit and vegetable choices is high and the prices are low. And since the weather makes it inviting to cook outdoors and keep the oven off indoors, it’s also prime time to experiment with grilling
Now that summer’s here, I’m putting my grill to good use. I love the smoky flavor cooking over a live fire adds to any dish – and because grilling doesn’t require added fat, it’s healthy as well as quick.
That’s why when I fire up the grill, I don’t just use it for chicken and turkey burgers. I love experimenting with veggies and fruit – yes, fruit! – on the fire. Here are a few grilling tips to expand your menu repertoire without loading up on fat and sugar
- Soak veggies first for flavorful results. Soaking vegetables in water for a half-hour before grilling prevents drying out. As for fruits, the key is selecting pieces that are just ripe – overly-ripe specimens will stick and burn.
- Lower the heat, and watch closely. Use medium heat for veggies and low heat – when the coals are burning down to embers – for most fruits. Even with the cooler temperatures, vegetables and especially fruits take less time to cook than a thick steak – often less than five minutes. So stay close to the grill and check often to avoid overcooking. Have tongs at the ready; they work better on odd-sized fruits and veggies than a spatula.
- Marinate veggies for extra flavor. Portobello mushrooms, eggplant and fresh summer zucchini will readily absorb flavor from a marinade. Once on the grill, brush veggies with extra marinade, or serve it as a dipping sauce.
- Go crazy with skewers. Roughly chop bell peppers, zucchini, onions and rings of eggplant into similar-sized pieces and spike them on skewers along with mushroom and cherry tomatoes to make a dish that’s as colorful as it is delicious.
- Or try wrappers or baskets. You can also wrap veggies and fruit in foil for easy handling, or use specially-built wire baskets with handles.
- After cooking, cool it. Because of the high water content of vegetables and especially fruits, they heat up quickly and continue cooking when removed from the fire. Give your grilled dishes five minutes to cool down to avoid burning your mouth.
Serve grilled fruit on its own – or try drizzling with balsamic vinegar for a tangy taste sensation. Because of the concentrated sugars, watch your portion size and save leftovers for the next day – grilled fruit makes a delicious addition to your breakfast yogurt!
For more nutrition, recipes and weight loss tips, visit Cheryl's blog.