By Fit For Work Staff

Tips and tricks to keep your barbecues safe, healthy and delicious!

Keep it lean: Grilling is a low-fat cooking method, so keep you meat choices healthy.

  • Burgers: Use lean beef (90 percent or better), ground turkey or portabella mushrooms
  • Hot dogs and brats: Choose low-fat, “lite” or poultry links to help limit saturated fat.
  • Steaks: Look for cuts with the word “round” or “loin,” which guarantee leanness. Other good options: Flank, strip and T-bone steaks.
  • Pork: “Loin” and “shoulder” are code for lean. Center-cut chops also get a thumbs-up.
  • Poultry: Choose light or dark meat, just be sure to remove the skin!

Size matters: Keeping those burgers small and steak sizes in check is important if you want to keep the pounds from piling on. A good looking portion (3 to 4 ounces) is about the size of a deck of cards. Don’t forget to scope out the buns, too, since calorie counts can vary by 100 or more!

Make portion control easy: Instead of serving whole bratwursts off the grill, consider serving slices of lighter sausage or pretzel sticks, just like they do with samples at grocery stores. Even if you use the “real” thing, having smaller “tastes” will help you keep calories in balance.

Mix it up: Experiment with grilling new proteins. Try herbed fish, veggie burgers, turkey burgers and more!

What about produce? Veggies and fruit not only taste great on the grill, but they can help fill you up and take the place of higher calorie side dishes.

Produce picks

Veggies: Mix and match!

Basics

  • Aparagus
  • Bell peppers
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Green beans
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Yellow squash
  • Zucchini squash

Outside the box

  • Artichoke hearts
  • Banana peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Greens 
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Jicama
  • Leeks
  • Pea pods

Flavor boosters

  • Herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, dill, cilantro, basil
  • Garlic
  • Steak seasoning
  • Salt-free seasonings
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Scant amount of sea salt
  • Oil or cooking spirtz
  • Lemon or lime juice

 

Fruits: Mix and match!

Classics

  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Melons
  • Peaches
  • Pineapple

Outside the box

  • Coconut
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Pears

Flavor boosters

  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Vanilla or Almond extract
  • Ginger
  • Sugar
  • Alternative Sweeteners

 

Since veggies and fruit are low in fat, coat them in little cooking oil before throwing them on the grill. This will prevent them from sticking to the grill surface. Be sure to spray before putting on the grill, not while grilling, unless you’re looking to lose your eyebrows.

Cook veggies and fruit on medium-high heat for about 10 to 15 minutes or until tender crisp. Starchy veggies, like potatoes, need to be cut thin or pre-cooked in the microwave to speed up their grilling pace.

Use a grill basket. This holey cookware will give produce the same great grilled flavor without the hassle of kabobs and will ensure that none of the little guys fall through the grill gates. Just add a bit of cooking spray and seasoning, then toss your veggies or fruit into a basket.