Summer is officially in full swing, and it’s a perfect time to fire up the grill. In fact, July is National Grilling Month. But instead of preparing your typical hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill, try something healthier, such as seasonal fruits and veggies. Remember, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that you fill half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables. Here’s how you can enjoy a healthier, more delicious month of grilling:
1. Throw a rainbow of vegetables on the grill. Simply brush the vegetables with olive oil and your favorite spices, and grill over medium heat. Rotate until marked and tender (about 12 to 15 minutes). Some of my summer favorites include tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, squash, bell peppers and fresh corn. Add them to fresh salad greens for an antioxidant boost! Visit your local farmers’ market for fresh fruits and vegetables. This summer, WakeMed Cary Hospital is sponsoring the Waverly Farmers’ Market, held on Saturdays from 9 am to noon.
2. Swap a hamburger for a grilled, marinated portobello mushroom burger or grilled eggplant slices. Not only tasty, they offer a meaty texture that appeals to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Place the grilled veggies on a whole wheat bun and add your favorite toppings.
3. Try a veggie burger recipe with hearty ingredients such as black beans, lentils, quinoa and chickpeas, and top with avocados, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and/or fresh tomatoes.
4. Grilled vegetable kabobs make the perfect meatless entree. Swap out meat for tofu cubes to add extra protein.
5. Sweeten your meal with grilled fruit. Try peach halves, pineapples, plums, melon, kiwi, bananas, pears or figs with a touch of honey marinade. Grill on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden. Serve on top of low-fat frozen yogurt or angel food cake.
6. Grilled vegetarian pizza is a great option, too. Add your favorite sauce and vegetables. The combinations are endless!
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger
4 Portobello mushroom caps
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the mushroom caps, smooth side up, in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour over the mushrooms. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or so, turning twice. Preheat grill for medium-high heat. Brush grate with oil. Place mushrooms on the grill, reserving marinade for basting. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until tender. Brush with marinade frequently. Add favorite toppings such as tomatoes, avocado, roasted red peppers or provolone cheese.
Grilled Vegetable Kabobs
Makes 4 servings
1 large eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ large red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
½ large yellow bell pepper, seeded and cubed
4 small zucchini, trimmed and cut into ½ inch slices
8 shallots, quartered
16 button mushrooms
16 cherry tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
To make the marinade, mix together in a bowl olive oil, raspberry vinegar, salt, pepper, mustard, light brown sugar, oregano and parsley, stirring until well blended.
Place eggplant in a colander over a bowl, sprinkle with salt, cover with a plate, weight the top and leave 30 minutes. Rinse eggplant thoroughly to remove salt, and press out water.
Add eggplant, peppers, zucchini, shallots, mushrooms and tomatoes to the marinade and turn vegetables carefully to coat completely. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the vegetables to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Thread a mixture of vegetables onto skewers. Cook on the grill for 3-5 minutes, brushing marinade just until tender.
Are you interested in learning more about how you can improve your health through diet? Schedule an individual consultation with a dietitian by calling the WakeMed Cary Hospital Outpatient Dietitian’s office at 919-350-2358.