Low-Fat Ways to Add Flavor to Grilling Recipes

Whether you are grilling vegetables, seafood, beef, pork, or poultry, use these diabetes-friendly tips for adding flavor--but not fat--to your next cookout.

Tasty Tips for Healthy Grilling

Grilling is one of the healthiest cooking methods around because it sears in flavor while the fat drips away. The seductive smokiness of barbecuing also adds calorie-free flavor, but you can accent grilled favorites in other ways, too. The key is choosing fresh and flavorful ingredients that turn up the taste without adding a lot of fat, sodium, calories, or carbs. Read on for tips you can use at your next cookout.

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Marinate Meat to Add Flavor

Marinades: Meats, poultry, or fish are soaked in an acidic solution with seasonings to add flavor--or to tenderize less-tender cuts of beef. When you drain off the marinade, most of its high-calorie, high-fat, or high-sodium ingredients go with it. Still it pays to watch what goes into a marinade.

When choosing marinade recipes, question high proportions of oil, which can add fat without contributing flavor. Rely on those that use juices and vinegars for acid. And opt for recipes that flavor with fresh or low-sodium ingredients.

When it's time to marinate, we recommend marinating in a sealed plastic bag, which not only holds the marinade close to the meat but also simplifies cleanup. And for food-safety reasons, don't brush any reserved marinade onto the cooked meat. If you need the marinade for seasoning, be sure to boil it first for at least 3 minutes to be safe.

Three-Way Marinated Chicken

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak Salad

Smoking Meat Brings Out New Flavor

Smoking: Wood chunks or chips infuse meat with flavor without adding calories. You can choose from mesquite, alder, maple, cedar, nut woods (such as hickory and pecan), or fruit woods (such as cherry and apple). Soak them first in water for an hour, then drain and sprinkle directly onto the coals (for gas or electric grills, put the wood in a smoker box or foil). If you're grilling longer than an hour, plan to add more wood during cooking.

Apple-Smoked Pork Loin

Smoked Brisket with Zesty Barbecue Sauce

Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

Make Grilling Seafood Less Sticky

Coating the grill: Because most fish and seafood are naturally low in fat, the flesh can stick to the grill, making it difficult to turn or remove. To alleviate the sticking, you can spray the cold grill rack with nonstick cooking spray, which will also make the rack easier to clean after grilling. Or you can brush the rack with cooking oil, but that might add a little fat. To make it easier to turn or remove fish, you might want to consider a grill basket, which you can also spray with cooking spray before adding the fish.

Grilled Fish with Garlic Marinade

Fish Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw

Glaze to Make It Crispy and Sweet

Glazes: High-sugar mixtures are brushed onto meat near the end of cooking to give the surface a glisten. Look for glazes that rely on reduced-sugar jellies or preserves.

Pork Skewers with Fruit Glaze

Grilled Peaches with Honey-Balsamic Syrup

Use Rubs for a Boost of Flavor

Rubs: Seasonings are rubbed directly onto the meat's surface and are great, low-fat ways to flavor grilled foods. Look for rubs with salt-free seasonings.

To use a rub, sprinkle the rub mixture evenly over the meat. Next, rub the mixture into the meat with your fingertips.

Spicy Southwestern Rub

Garlic Herb Rub

Indian Spice Rub

Sesame Ginger Spice Rub

Brush on Extra Flavor

Brush-on sauces: Thin or thick sauces are brushed onto meat during grilling. Recognize that sugar can play a large role in many barbecue sauces and plan accordingly.

Grilled Beef Kabobs with Chimichurri Sauce

Grilled Snapper with Red Pepper Sauce

Grilled Salmon with Blueberry Sauce

Add Sauce on the Side to Control Calories

Serve-along sauces: Condiments can be based on tomato, yogurt, or other ingredients. It's best to limit high-sugar sauces such as tomato barbecue sauce, ketchup, or pepper jelly.

Shrimp and Zucchini with Basil Chive Cream Sauce

Chicken with Minted Yogurt Sauce

Slather on the Salsa

Salsas: Full of fresh-tasting fruits and vegetables, including vitamin-rich tomatoes, salsa is a good bet as a flavor booster at your barbecue. Plus, salsa is a delicious way to add an extra serving of veggies to your day.

Flank Steak with Corn Salsa

Grilled Lime Chicken with Watermelon Salsa

Grilled Tuna with Sweet 'n Heat Salsa

Opt for Relish

Relishes and chutneys: These chunky vegetable or fruit mixtures can be high in sugar and sodium, so remember: a little goes a long way.

Catfish with Black Bean and Avocado Relish

Grilled Salmon with Apple-Onion Relish

Garlic Steaks with Nectarine Relish


Grilling Safety

10 Tips for Safe Grilling

1. Make sure the area is well-ventilated and at least 20 feet from your home.

2. Place big pieces of meat in the center of the grill, with the coals on the sides. Make sure to use grilling tongs, which are longer than traditional kitchen tongs, when placing and removing meat.

3. Control the flame with a spritzer bottle of water or by closing the grill vents.

4. Open and shut the grill quickly when checking meat to reduce heat loss.

5. Stay close to the grill when it's hot.

6. Keep a fire extinguisher handy.

7. To be sure it's done, check that meat texture is fibrous, not fleshy looking.

8. Use a meat thermometer to test doneness--pork should be 160 degrees F; beef and lamb, 145 degrees F; and poultry, 170 degrees F.

9. Let cooked roasts stand for 15-20 minutes to even out the temperature.

10. Slice cooked meat on a clean cutting board.

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