September might be right around the corner but it’s still BBQ season.  Let’s talk about healthy grill recipes and cook-out tips.


Skinless chicken breast, lean ground poultry, and fish are the healthier choices. The good fats in fish like salmon and trout have heart-healthy benefits.  And when you grill your fish with skill, your guests won’t even miss the red meat, which is generally higher in unhealthy saturated fat.  

If you choose beef, go for the leaner options such as flank steak, top loin, sirloin, tenderloin, and 93% (or higher) lean ground beef.  For pork, choose trimmed chops or tenderloin.  Always marinate your meat.  The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends marinating meat for at least 30 minutes to help reduce cancer risk.  Scientists are unsure why, but it appears that the marinade acts as a barrier to protect against carcinogens.  Check out these healthy marinade recipes.

Skip the processed meats.  Grilled hotdogs and sausage, even the lean varieties such as turkey hot dogs or chicken sausage, contain cancer causing preservatives. The American Institute for Cancer Research has linked consumption of processed meats to an increased risk of in colorectal cancer. If hot dogs are a must, consider using a variety without added nitrates, such as those from Applegate Farms. Even the new Beyond Burger® and The Impossible™ Burger are quite processed and it’s best to limit consumption of highly processed foods.  Stick with more minimally processed, whole foods.

RECIPES:  Healthy grilled protein ideas: 

  • Wrap marinated fish fillets in foil and toss on the grill.
  • Create colorful chicken kebabs using veggies like red onion, yellow peppers, and green zucchini.
  • Add minced portabella mushrooms and onions to the turkey burgers or chicken patties to make them juicier and more savory.

Venture outside your grilling comfort zone and try something new like this Vegan Burger. It’s the best non-meat burger I have ever eaten, and I am not just talking nutrition-wise. It’s delicious!  Another non-animal based protein that tastes excellent is marinated grilled tofu.



Take the focus off meat and grill up some vegetables.  Think color – lots and lots of color.  Just about all your favorite colorful veggies (and fruits; more on this later) can be grilled alone or as kebabs.  The trick to grilling perfect veggies is to cut them into uniform pieces that will cook quickly and evenly.  Brush each piece with a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill.  Alternatively, you can use a grill basket or wrap veggies in aluminum foil packets to keep them out of the line of fire.  

RECIPE:  Grilled veggies in foil packets –

  • Preheat grill to medium.  Cut heavy-duty foil in to 12-by-18-inch pieces.
  • Place sliced veggies in a large bowl; add ¼ cup bottled light Italian dressing or better yet, make your own dressing; toss to coat. Divide vegetables evenly among foil pieces. Drizzle with any remaining dressing.
  • Fold long sides of foil toward each other, crimping edges to seal. Fold and crimp remaining edges, forming a sealed packet.
  • Place packets, seam side up, on grill. Close grill and cook for 20 minutes. To check for doneness, remove one packet from grill, open carefully (poke holes to release some steam) and taste a vegetable.  It should be crisp-tender.

Vegetables that are perfect for grilling include asparagus, bell peppers, carrots, corn, eggplant, onions, mushrooms, squash, sweet potatoes, and zucchini.


Potato salad, coleslaw, and macaroni salad are all popular barbecue side dishes.  Generally, they are overflowing with mayonnaise (and starchy carbs like potatoes and macaroni) making them high in fat and calories.  For a more nutritious option, go for coleslaw.  It’s made from heart-healthy cabbage, a cruciferous veggie that’s packed with antioxidants and fiber.  With a few recipe tweaks, you can make a delicious and healthy side for your next BBQ. 

RECIPE: Healthier coleslaw: 

  • Skip the mayonnaise in favor of a dressing made of 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 3 tablespoons apple juice, and 2 tablespoons vinegar.
  • Add shredded carrots, shredded celery stalks, 1 diced apple, and about 1/3 cup raisins to your coleslaw to give it some extra zip and a punch of nutrients.

Also, consider including a dressing at your next cook out.  It’s a delicious side dish with lots of healthy fiber and less fat.


Whole-grain buns and bread will complement your healthy cook-out with extra fiber, flavor, and texture. If you’re watching your calories and carbs, try a whole wheat pita pocket, an open-faced burger, or a lettuce wrap.


For a decadent dessert with a healthy twist, try grilling fruit. The natural sugars caramelize in the high heat, giving them extra sweetness and flavor. Try grilling sliced apples, bananas, pears, peaches, pineapple, figs, nectarines, mangoes, or watermelon.  

Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD


Have you gotten away from eating healthy since COVID-19 hit? I can help you find simple ways to get back on track so you can feel better again, have more energy, enjoy eating, and achieve your personal best weight and maintain it with ease.

If you need help creating a healthy eating plan, LET’S TALK.  Call me @ 732-494-1149.  I look forward to speaking with you.

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