Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –


Hamburgers, hot dogs, ribs and bratwurst, move over! There’s a healthier way to barbeque. This is the year to work fish, poultry, leaner meats, more vegetables, and even fruit into your repertoire. Here’s a rundown of some lower fat, higher fiber, lower sodium and foods that are richer in nutrients for you to throw on the “barbie.”


Choose sirloin, flank/skirt, filet mignon, pork tenderloin, chicken breast, shrimp, salmon, Mahi Mahi, snapper, or tuna. Even if you leave the skin on your poultry, about half of its calories will come from protein, not fat. You can’t say that about dogs, burgers or ribs!


Coleslaw – Cabbage and carrots are great as a base, but try adding broccoli stalk shreds or julienned jicama to your coleslaw for more veggies. Add a little pizzazz to your coleslaw by enhancing it with finely sliced green onion and grated fresh ginger. If you use a prepared slaw dressing, try taking half the amount and blending it with an equal amount of Greek yogurt (plain or with honey).

Stuffed peppers – You can absolutely cook these on the grill! Just place them over a drip pan, so you will be grilling them with indirect heat.

Kebabs –  Alternate vegetable chunks of bell peppers, red onion, mushroom, grape tomato, and/or zucchini rounds with your meat.


Yes, you can grill fruit! The intense heat caramelizes a little sugar and brings out a unique flavor to fruit traditionally eaten cold and plain. Skewer big chunks of fruit such as pineapple, plum, apricot, peach, and watermelon (note that wooden skewers should be soaked in water 2 hours first). Then, brush with a mixture of 2 Tb. honey, 1 Tb. canola oil, 1 tsp. vanilla and ¼ tsp. cinnamon and grill 3-5 minutes per side until you see grill marks.

What’s more American than apple pie? A healthier twist is to make baked apples – on the grill. Just prepare apples as you would for baking, then to prevent from rolling over, nestle each apple on a ring shaped from aluminum foil or place on muffin tin spaces.


Barbeque sauce   Making homemade barbeque sauce is best if you can spend some time at the stove: sauté 1 ½ cup finely diced onion in 1 Tb. oil and ½ cup of water until soft and translucent, then simmer with 1 ½ cup chili sauce, 3 Tb. Fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, and ½ tsp. reduced sodium salt until desired consistency is reached. Otherwise, try to find packaged barbeque sauce with less than 8 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons.

Meat rubs   Find a salt-free blend or make your own: 1 Tb. each of thyme, oregano, mustard powder, and paprika, 2 tsp. grated lemon peel, 2 tsp. crushed garlic, and ¼ tsp. pepper.

Marinades   To reduce the sodium from commercial marinades, mix half liquid volume with an equal amount of oil and citrus juice blend.   

And whether you choose charcoal or gas, there are ways to reduce carcinogens from forming when grilling. Place steaks on a grid over ash-covered coals or pre-heated medium gas flame. COVER. Cook for 11-15 minutes, turning at least once. For skin-on, bone-in poultry with sauce, place in a foil roasting pan, covered tightly with foil and CLOSE grill lid. Cook over medium heat 1 hour or until tender. Finish directly on the grill for only the last 10-15 minutes, basting with reserved sauce.


Grilling tips from “Beef – Its What’s For Dinner.”  Recipe addition ideas from Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.


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Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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