“Healthy Grilling: Impossible?” Not for Robert Irvine! The Restaurant: Impossible star, celebrity chef and Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute expert shared his tips and tricks for a healthy summer of grilling. Staying fit and enjoying healthy barbecues with friends and family may seem daunting with mayo-laden sides, corn dripping in butter, and sugary barbecue sauces, but Irvine has got you covered.
What are the best healthy proteins to cook on the grill?
Luckily for those attempting to stick to lean proteins, just about anything can be grilled (though peas may present a challenge). One of my favorites is salmon. It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which not only provide great nutritional benefits, but also ensure that the fish will stay moist on the grill. If chicken is your thing, go with skinless breasts — but leave the bone in. The bone doesn't add calories, but it does add flavor and helps ensure a juicy breast.
Is there any way to use BBQ sauce on your grilled meats and not have to sacrifice the health factor or flavor?
It's true that most store-bought BBQ sauces are loaded with added calories from sweeteners. The healthiest suggestion I could make is to break free from store-bought and expand your sauce horizons to include flavors outside of the stereotypical BBQ sauce varieties. Start with a ketchup base in a saucepan over medium heat, add cider vinegar, chili, garlic, onion, cumin, and any other herbs and spices that seem to fit. Sweeten with a touch of honey if needed.
What are your favorite unusual healthy grilling recipes?
Making a salad! Halve (or quarter) the heads of lettuce, drizzle on a bit of olive oil, and toss onto a hot grill for about a minute per side. Finish with a light dressing and other salad fixings. The grill adds a nice smoky char to the overall dish for a completely different type of salad experience. I would suggest a dense lettuce like romaine hearts or iceberg for this.
Are there any secrets to not having white meats like chicken and pork dry out on the grill?
Go bone-in whenever possible. With pork you want to start with high heat to get a good sear to seal in the juices, and then go "slow and low" to finish it up. With chicken, you should cook slow and low the entire time.
One of the most important things is to ensure that the meat has time to rest at room temperature for at least 10 to 15 minutes before serving. The cooking process causes meat to constrict, thus forcing out a lot of the delicious juices, and resting can help draw some of those juices back in.
How do you avoid overeating at a cookout or barbecue?
Cookouts should never just be a sit-down-and-eat affair. You're in the great outdoors, so make sure some outdoor activities are available in the midst of the feast. Start up a touch football game, set up the volleyball net, have a water balloon fight... whatever keeps you moving! Activities can help break up the constant gorging, as well as help you burn off any of those extra calories you may have packed on.
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Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi