Grilling: Healthy and Light Recipes

Grilling for a cookout usually makes you think of big meals that aren’t very healthy, like ribs, sausages, hot dogs, and huge steaks. But grilling for a cookout can actually be a great opportunity to make a nice, light, healthy meal. Using a few easy techniques, like using a grilling plank and cooking veggies in a foil packet, you can make some fantastic light meals that won’t make you regret that weekend cookout.

Planked Lemon Pepper Tilapia and Foil-packet Carrots

One of the easiest ways to grill light is to grill fish. Grilling fish doesn’t have to be hard. It’s actually quite easy when you use a wood plank. Most hardware stores sell grilling planks. If you can’t find one at your local store, many online vendors sell them. There are many benefits to planking fish. First, you don’t have to worry about fish sticking to the metal grate on the grill. Second, the plank infuses the fish with flavor, depending on the type of wood you buy. Third, it makes clean up and serving easy because the fish is completely cooked on the small plank, leaving no mess on the grill. You can also serve the fish right on the plank wood.healthy-alternatives

An easy way to make a healthy grilled side dish is to use a foil pouch. Those in the camping community commonly use this method to make some amazing side dishes over a campfire. The same concept works on the grill. Place a little bit of butter or oil, some chopped veggies, and some spices in the packet and then tightly seal it and place it on the grill. The packet steams the vegetables, allowing foolproof grilling.

Select a cedar (or any wood type you prefer) grilling plank and a few fresh filets of a whitefish, such as tilapia. About an hour before its time to cook the fish, soak your plank in water. This will help reduce flare-ups. Prepare the fish filet by brushing it with olive oil, squeezing some fresh lemon juice on top, and topping it with fresh black pepper and freshly minced garlic. Set the filets on the cedar plank. For the foil-packet carrots, clean and cut 4 fresh carrots into small slices (about 2 cups). Cut a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil about 15–20 inches long. Fold it in half like a book and put 2 tablespoons of butter inside. Place the sliced carrots on top of the butter, and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of minced garlic on top of the carrots. Close the “book” by bringing the top of the foil over the bottom and tightly folding over the edges to create a seal.

Light the grill for medium heat and place the foil packet of carrots and the plank with the tilapia directly on the grate over direct heat. Close the dome. After about 5 minutes, flip the foil pack over and close the lid. If the heat is too hot, move the foil pouch to a spot on the grate with lower heat. Cook the fish for 10–15 minutes; it is ready when it easily flakes apart when tested with a fork. Cook the foiled carrots for about 15 minutes, depending on how high the heat is. Serve the tilapia with the carrots on the side.

Salmon Burgers and Foil-packet Parmesan Broccoli

One of my favorite ways to eat salmon is in salmon burgers. They’re fresh, tasty, and really heart healthy. To make these burgers, get 1 pound of fresh Alaskan salmon filets and cut the meat away from the skin. Dice the salmon into very small pieces. Place the chopped salmon, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, 1/4 cup of diced red onion, 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro leaves, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well and lightly form them into patties. Let the salmon burgers sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes prior to grilling.low-sugar-sauce

Prepare a foil packet as described in the above recipe for carrots. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 cups of fresh broccoli heads, and 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic to the center of the packet. Seal the foil packet tightly so steam cannot escape.

Light the grill for medium heat. Place the filled foil packet and the salmon burgers directly over the heat on the grate. Close the grill lid. After about 5 minutes, flip the burgers and flip and rotate the packet. The burgers will be done after about 10 minutes, and the broccoli will be done when the heads are soft and tender. After about 10 minutes, carefully open the foil packet and add 3 tablespoons of freshly shredded parmesan cheese. Serve the salmon burgers on fresh rolls with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce if desired.

If you enjoy firing up the grill on a daily basis during the warmer months, you have nothing to fear! These light grilling recipes provide a delicious, nutrient-rich alternative to the typical barbecue menu.


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