The Sound of Music
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Summer Grilling Tips
It's officially summer and it's grilling season everywhere. I am a big fan of grilled food, not only because of the smoky layer of flavor it adds to anything cooked over a live fire, but also because grilling is one of the few cooking methods (besides baking, broiling, steaming or poaching) that doesn't require added fat.
There's no doubt that barbecues and family picnics can be difficult if you're watching your weight. Sugary barbecue sauces and fatty cuts of meat can kick the calories up fast. But a few simple tips can help you navigate the Fourth of July and other summer feasts without breaking the bank on your diet.
Plan ahead and have a snack or a workout before you go to help you resist high calorie temptations.
If you do overindulge, don't beat yourself up. The next day, jump back in the game. Eat less, work out more - or both!
1. Take turkey
Choosing four-ounce extra lean turkey burger over traditional ground beef will save you over 150 calories and 20 grams of fat. A four-ounce turkey burger has 122 calories and 1.5 grams fat while four ounces of ground beef (80% lean) has 288 calories and 23 grams of fat.
2. Learn to love mustard (and other low-cal condiments)
A tablespoon of Dijon mustard has 18 calories with no added sugar or fat while mayonnaise has 57 calories (and 5 grams of fat). Ketchup has the same calories as mustard but may be loaded with hidden sugar. Shop for ketchup in the health food section to find a brand with no added sugar. Some are sweetened with fruit juice or agave nectar instead of refined sugar.
3. Leave your buns at home
Forgot about rolls or buns made from white flour. If you must have a bun for your burger, be sure to choose one made of whole grains with fiber.
4. Spray it
Take along a spray bottle of olive oil to keep the grill from sticking, especially when you're cooking lean meats and vegetables.
5. Marinate 'em
If you're in a hurry, fat-free or low-fat vinaigrettes make great last minute marinades, and they also add flavor when you brush them on grilled vegetables.
6. Load up
Take plenty of vegetables along to grill with your burgers, chicken or fish. Slice onions crosswise, in 1/2-inch thick rings. Hold the rings intact while grilling, by first inserting a toothpick in the side. Save any leftover grilled onions to chop in the morning and add to your egg white omelets.
7. Skewer 'em
Cut other vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini or bell peppers in even-sized pieces and thread them on skewers with mushrooms or cherry tomatoes. When they're all the same size, they'll cook at the same rate. Use leftover veggies the next day to make flavorful salads.
8. Spear 'em
Wrap medium-size raw asparagus spears in a thin slice of lean turkey breast and grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until the asparagus is just done.
9. Go fish
Salmon, halibut and mahi-mahi are great grilling choices as they're thick, firm and easier to turn on the grill. Delicate thinner fish can still be grilled but you'll need to purchase a special grilling basket to help you turn them.
10. Grab 'em A good pair of tongs is an indispensable tool for turning or removing hot items from the grill. Be sure they're long enough to keep your hands away from the high heat.
11. Have dessert
Grilling fruit is a best-kept secret! When the coals have died down and the heat is low is the best time to add raw fruit to the grill. Be sure not to use overly ripe fruit or it will stick and burn. Try peach or pear halves or slices of pineapple (not too thin). Be careful of your serving sizes here - keep them small and save the leftovers.