Grilling is a tasty, low-cal, low-fuss method for preparing meats, of course. Did you know that it's also an easy way to prepare vegetables and some fruits?
Grilling also helps to remove any excess fat, which drips right through the grates. That means you don't need to add extra oil to pans on the stove or in the oven, says Katie Rankell, director of the UCI Health Weight Management Program.
An added bonus: Outdoor grilling helps keep the kitchen cool on hot summer days and nights!
These grilling recipes, created by Chef Jessica Van Roo, assistant director of Culinary Recreation & Experiential Programs at UC Irvine, can keep you cooking outdoors for every meal. Besides being low in calories, they provide a great blend of good carbs, lean protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Grilled Peaches with Yogurt and Granola
Serves 4 (Total cost: $5.48/$1.37 per serving)
Peaches are a luscious summer favorite! They are full of prebiotics — special plant fibers that promote healthy gut bacteria — plus lots of vitamin A and C to help boost your immunity, says Rankell. Peaches are also extremely hydrating because they contain about 85% water.
- 4 fresh ripe peaches, halved and seeds removed
- Vegetable oil or melted ghee to brush
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1/2 cup granola
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave
- Mint or cinnamon as garnish (optional)
Preheat grill to medium temperature.
Brush peach halves with oil or melted ghee and place on a grill.
Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, flip and grill the other side for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Fill peach halves with yogurt and granola, then drizzle with honey or agave.
Garnish with mint or cinnamon and serve.
Calories per serving: 232
Thai-style Chicken Burgers
Serves 4 (Total cost: $9.73/ $2.43, Thai style; or $8.46/ $2.12 per serving, regular)
Extra-lean ground chicken is 98% fat free, making it a heart-healthy protein choice. Onions, garlic, chilis, ginger and mint also add flavor, not to mention minerals and vitamins.
- 1 lb extra-lean ground chicken
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, zested
- 2 to 3 Thai or jalapeno chilis, seeded and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup panko or regular breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
- 1 tablespoon mint, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb extra-lean ground chicken
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, more as needed
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 burger buns
- Cheese (optional)
- 1 or 2 tomatoes, sliced
- 4 lettuce leaves
- Ketchup, mustard, pickle slices
For regular or Thai-style burgers, combine all ingredients, gently mix with hands or wooden until just combined. Form 4 patties and refrigerate until grill is preheated.
Preheat grill to medium-high. Brush grill with oil. Place patties on grill and heat, about 5 to 6 minutes per side, making sure to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Remove from grill and serve on buns with desired toppings.
Calories per serving: 303 (excluding optional toppings)
Shrimp Tacos and Avocado Slaw
Serves 4, makes 8 tacos (Total cost: $14.80/ $3.70 per serving)
Shrimp are loaded with omega 3 fats, which have been shown to help lower cholesterol and improve heart health, says Rankell. Shrimp also contain vitamin D, which aids in bone strength, and the antioxidant astaxanthin, which can help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.
Add avocados and you are mixing in amazing texture along with lots of healthy unsaturated fats and fiber, which aid in satiety. They also contain omega 3 fatty acids, along with vitamins C, E, K and B-6, not to mention beta-carotene, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium and lutein.
Grill along with some mild Anaheim chili peppers and you have a delicious dinner meal.
- 1 lb shrimp, deveined and tails removed
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (or use more paprika)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Juice of 1 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- bamboo or metal skewers
- 10-14 oz coleslaw mix
- 1 yellow or sweet onion, finely diced
- Juice of 3 limes (about 4 tablespoons)
- 2 large avocados, peeled and seeds removed
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (optional)
- 8 corn tortillas
- Salsa or chopped tomatoes and onion
- Crumbled or shredded cheese
- Cilantro sprigs (optional)
- Lime slices
Combine shrimp with all ingredients except skewers. Set aside to marinate for no more than 30 minutes if using an acid such as lime
Preheat grill. In a separate bowl, toss coleslaw mix with onion. In a blender or food processor, combine lime juice, avocados, garlic, cumin and cilantro and mix until creamy. Add to coleslaw mix.
Skewer shrimp on wooden or metal skewers, brush with olive oil and grill on high heat about 2 to 3 minutes per side, remove from grill.
Warm tortillas on the grill. Remove shrimp from skewers and serve with slaw mix, salsa fixings and cheese.
Calories per serving: 579 (without cheese)