You may not realize it, but that outdoor grilling you do on the weekend can be healthier than you might think. Unfortunately, most people douse their grilled food with sugar-spiked BBQ sauce and/or ultra-high-sodium seasonings.
My favorite grilling secret: Use vitamin C–rich fruits, such as limes and strawberries, to give your grilled food a burst of flavor. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that promotes healthy skin, boosts the immune system and decreases inflammation. Four tips for healthier grilling…
- Go fish! Instead of the charred meat that scientists now believe can increase one’s cancer risk, opt for an ultra-lean protein source—such as a super-low-calorie “white fish” fillet. This quick-cooking, mildly flavored fish isn’t linked to the same cancer risk as charred meat and generally isn’t very expensive. Popular kinds of white fish are tilapia, cod, bass, grouper, haddock, catfish and snapper.
- Get a veggie fix. Grilling is a great way to squeeze out mouthwatering flavor from plain vegetables. Instead of bell peppers and onions, go for something a bit more unusual such as asparagus, zucchini and brussels sprouts. Grill the veggies until tender and very lightly charred.
- Keep it simple with seasonings. For fish, simply squeeze on some fresh lime juice and drizzle with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil. For vegetables, slather on a mixture of extra-virgin olive oil and a good aged balsamic vinegar.
- Add salsa. A vitamin C–rich strawberry salsa is perfect on grilled fish.
Try the recipes below for a delicious and nutritious summer meal…
Lime-Grilled Fish with Strawberry Salsa
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
4 firm, white-fleshed, mild fish fillets (1 pound total)
1 cup strawberry salsa (see recipe below)
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
Directions: Coat your grill with vegetable oil spray. Then preheat on high for 10 minutes. (Caution: It’s dangerous to coat a hot grill.) Combine the olive oil and lime juice, and brush onto the fish. Grill four to five inches from the heat source until the fish is opaque (you may want to use a fish grilling basket)—about five minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Avoid charring as much as possible, adjusting the heat as needed. Serve immediately, topped with salsa (see below) and fresh lime wedges. Makes four servings (each serving is one fish fillet, about 3.5 ounces, with one-quarter cup of salsa).
Seasonal Strawberry Salsa
1 pint fresh strawberries, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1 cup tomatillos or green tomatoes, chopped (approximately four tomatillos or tomatoes)
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded, minced
1 fresh lime (zest it, then squeeze about 2 Tablespoons of juice)
Directions: Mix all the ingredients. Spoon onto cooked fish, and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 16 one-quarter-cup servings.
Nutritional information per serving for fish with strawberry salsa (based on using tilapia): Calories, 160…fat, 5 g…cholesterol, 55 mg…carbohydrates, 6 g…dietary fiber, 1 g…protein, 23 g…sodium, 350 mg.