Bring on the “Healthy” Barbecue


The weather is warming up and that means it’s time to break out the grill. Many foods can be grilled, including vegetables and fruit. And, nutrition experts says, barbecuing uses healthy cooking techniques for a low-fat, healthy lifestyle—especially when compared with frying.

That’s not to say that a barbecue can’t deteriorate into an artery clogging, calorie-laden meal. To avoid that, choose the right foods and follow these nutrition guidelines.

Go lean.

Look for cuts with “loin” or “round” in the name, and opt for ground beef that is 90 to 96 percent fat-free.

Make portions moderate.

Stick to the recommended serving size of four ounces of precooked meat (three ounces cooked).

Cook chicken in the skin.

Leaving it on during cooking keeps chicken moist, but make sure you remove it before eating to cut down on excess fat.

Pile on the produce.

Meat, poultry and fish aren’t the only foods that can end up on a grill. Put vegetables on the grill after marinating them and placing them on skewers or a grilling tray. Don’t stop at vegetable kebabs. Grilling fruit caramelizes the natural sugars, intensifying the flavor.

Mind your marinade.

Fat isn’t an essential ingredient in a marinade or barbecue sauce. It’s the acid in the lemon, lime, pineapple or vinegar in a marinade that tenderizes meat—not the fat. Try a three-to-one ratio of vinegar to oil.

Don’t drip.

When fat drips onto hot coals, it can produce a substance that may raise cancer risk.  Use lean cuts of meat, cut off visible fat before grilling and turn meat with tongs instead of a fork to minimize dripping juices.

Get grilling. Visit BaylorHealth.com/LowFatBBQ for more healthy tips.

Some information in this blog post first appeared in BaylorHealth Magazine and in the Baylor HealthSource Library.

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Bring on the “Healthy” Barbecue