There is no better time than summer to go outside, get a healthy dose of sunshine, and fire up the grill. Whether it’s a large gathering or just a family affair, barbecuing can be a fantastic (and fantastically tasty) change of pace. But there's a problem! The traditional barbecue fare tends to be lined with fat and dripping with grease, and eating right is a big part of staying healthy and active for the summer.
Well have no fear, here are some no hassle recipes to help you stay healthy without giving up the mouth-watering goodness that comes with summer barbeques.
Grilled Chicken with Basil Dressing
- ⅔ cups extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp of lemon juice + ¼ cup
- 1 tsp grated lemon peel
- 1 ½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup lightly packed basil leaves
- 1 large garlic clove
- 3 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs + 3 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
- Whisk ⅓ cup olive oil, 3 tbsp lemon juice, crushed fennel seeds, ¾ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper in a resealable plastic bag.
- Add chicken and massage in the marinade.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 min. or up to one day turning occasionally.
- Blend basil, garlic, lemon peel, ¼ cup lemon juice, ¾ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper in a blender until smooth.
- Gradually blend in ⅓ cup olive oil and season to taste.
- Remove chicken from bag and grill until cooked, flipping halfway through. Top with dressing and enjoy.
Bobby Deen’s Special Thick-Cut Garlic Pork Chops with Bourbon Glaze
- 2 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp bourbon
- 1 garlic clove halved
- 2 ¾ -1 lb center cut bone-in pork chop
- mix together the bourbon, brown sugar and dijon mustard and set aside
- rub pork chops with garlic, salt and pepper
- brush with glaze
- Grill until slightly charred and cooked through (approx. 10 min each side). Some pink will remain in the center.
- Brush with glaze before serving.
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
- 10 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 5 lean bacon strips, halved lengthwise (the more fat on the bacon, the less evenly everything will cook. The dripping grease will affect the flame level.)
- Place asparagus on a sheet of waxed paper; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle with pepper; turn to coat.
- Wrap a bacon piece around each spear; secure ends with toothpicks.
- Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp. Discard toothpicks.
Originally published as Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus in Quick Cooking March/April 2005, p24
Flame Licked Chili Flank Steak
- 2 tbsp red chili paste
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns, crushed
- 1 tbsp cumin seed, crushed
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- 2 lbs flank steak
- Mix red chili paste, oil, peppercorns, cumin seed and sea salt in small bowl.
- Coat steak evenly on both sides with mixture.
- Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.
- Grill steak over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes per side or until done.
- Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Cut steak across the grain into thin slices.
Recipe courtesy of Thai Kitchen.
Light and Lemony Grilled Lobster
- ¼ cup white wine
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp melted butter (or butter substitute)
- 1 tbsp minced or crushed garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano
- Salt & Pepper
- 4 lobster tails
- Whisk together all ingredients except butter.
- Let sit 1 hour (or more).
- Add butter and microwave 1 minute or until butter is melted. Whisk or stir to combine.
- Rinse tails in cool water.
- With a large, sharp knife, “butterfly” the tails (cut the flesh down the middle, lengthwise, keeping the tail intact).
- If needed, use kitchen shears to cut through the shell down the same line as your butterfly cut.
- Baste generously, let sit 5-10 minutes.Lay tails, flesh side down, grill 3 to 4 minutes.
- Flip over. Pour rest of baste on top and close grill lid.
- Grill 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of Kelly Anderson, Certified Chef & Culinary Consultant.
Owner of lunchbunchbistro.com, a resource for fun, healthy recipes for families.
There are other foods you can grill, some unexpected, for a healthy side or snack. Here are some ideas.
- Avocado: Slice in half, remove pit, and grill for 2-3 min. to create a mini bowl for salsa, addition to a summer salad or just a great side.
- Summer Squash: Slice in half the long way, clear out the seeds, brush on some olive oil mixed with fresh herbs and seasonings, and grill face down until grill marks appear.
- Zucchini: Prepared and grilled in the same way as the summer squash.
- Peaches: Slice in half, remove pit, and grill face down for 5-8 min. Top with a dab of yogurt or cinnamon for desert.
- Apples: Remove core and slice into eighths and grill, flipping once, for 4-5 min.
Health Conscious Tips:
- Not healthy enough? Replace the olive or vegetable oil in your recipes with coconut oil. Coconut oil is considered a good saturated fat, and is a heart healthy replacement for other cooking oils or butters.
- Keep your grill clean, all of that charred mess that builds up may add a certain flavor to your food, but it also contains carcinogens that are potentially harmful to your health. (Coconut oil is also a great way to clean your grill as well. Seriously, get some.)
- Marinade your Meat. Meat marinades insure that the meat you are grilling retains its full protein power. The marinade acts as a slight barrier protecting the goods and sealing in that juicy flavor.
- Consciously chose your ingredients. Instead of the ground beef stacked up in the freezer section, grab a lean brisket and use it for your burgers. The meat is leaner, and you know exactly what's in it unlike pre-packaged hamburger meat.
For more healthy recipes and fitness tips, come visit our Chicago Health and Wellness page.