Health Tips for Overall Well-being from Hope Wellness Clinic

Healthy Grilling Habits: Getting the Best Grilled Veggies This Summer

Ah, summer grilling season is upon us! I have fond memories of burgers and dogs on grill growing up. Nowadays, I enjoy the more sophisticated flavors and challenges of healthy grilling with veggies and a few fruits. There is something that changes the flavor profile of your everyday run of the mill side dish veggies that when they come off the grill the move up into centerpiece status.

There is a reason why fajitas are so popular. It is the bright exciting flavors of the peppers and sweetness from the onions. Ever have boiled corn that needs to become a transport for butter and salt into your belly? Compare it to brined and grilled-in-the-husk corn or salt and brush on EVOO with the char of the grill, it is unmatched.

So here are a few suggestions to help your picnic table brighten up with the many colors of grilled veggies and you don’t have to feel bad coming back for thirds.

  1. Gas or Charcoal: Studies have shown that gas is better and has fewer carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) produced as compared to charcoal, however many grill aficionados will swear the flavor isn’t as good on gas as compared to charcoal to this I say to each grill-master their own. However, if you are grilling with charcoal do yourself and everyone you are grilling for a favor and use vinegar or lemon juice in your marinades it has been shown to reduce these carcinogens by 90%.
  1. Skewers and Baskets: If you are using skewers it is important to understand the dynamics of size and cooking times if your shish kabob has many different items be sure the denser items that take longer to cook are smaller than the other items, this is most important over higher temperatures. The lower the temperature the more forgiving the results are with sporadic sizes. Baskets are a common grilling apparatus that make quick work of grilling many mixed item with out having to skewer each piece.
  1. Grilling packets: Another way of handling more delicate fruits and veggies that may fall through the grill, or denser root veggies that can be cooked with butter and seasonings. Creating a foil package also leaves the grill cleaner or less chance of mixing flavors on the grill. Cook until the vegetables are tender (about 12 to 15 minutes, for potatoes). Be careful of steam when you open a packet to check doneness.
  1. Know Your Veggies: Some vegetables take a minute or two to cook and others take longer if your new to grilling vegetables keep a constant eye on the smaller thinner ones. Denser vegetables like potatoes will take the longest to cook. If you keep them over high a heat for too long will char them on the outside while they will remain raw on the inside. To prevent burning, sear vegetables over high heat, then move them to a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. Or precook them and just give them a few minutes on the grill to get some color on the outside.
  1. Oil Them Up: This is last on the list, but I wanted it to be the last thing you read because it is so important.  Vegetables dry out when they hit the heat without a little oil to keep the moisture in. Before they hit the grill, toss them with a light coating of oil. Don’t use too much, dripping oil causes flare-ups and can ruin the flavors. Plus tossing them in oil helps your seasoning stick more uniformly. Consider good oils such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Organic Coconut oil to really bring out the flavors.

Stay happy and healthy this summer and enjoy the new additions and healthy options that will make your grill a healthier place to be this summer.

Happy Grilling!