One of the greatest joys of summer is grilling with friends and family. The aroma of dinner cooking over an open flame can make everyone’s mouth water with anticipation. The direct heat deepens the flavors of the food, Caramelization causes roasted vegetables to get sweeter whereas with meat, it’s a process called the Maillard reaction which causes the proteins to brown and develop that delicious grilled flavor!
Grilling is considered a healthy cooking method because it exposes food to direct heat, so little oil is needed during the cooking process. Most grilling methods also allow fat to drip away from the food. These tips will help you maximize your grilled recipes:
- Always use a sturdy metal brush to clean the grates between uses. It’s easier to clean when the grill is hot.
- Create a nonstick surface. Coat the grates with oil to prevent whatever you are grilling from sticking. Put vegetable oil on a clean rag and to move the rag over the grates to coat them when the grill is hot.
- Be patient. In general, the fewer times you flip whatever you are cooking the better.
- Cut on a bias. By cutting on a bias (or angle) while you prep the food, you create more surface area that is touching the grill to develop that charred and smoky flavor.
- We highly recommend using reusable skewers however if you are using wooden skewers, they must be soaked Wooden skewers can easily burn over a hot grill. Soaking them in water for 10–20 minutes before threading the ingredients on will prevent your skewers from going up in flames.
Building Balanced Skewers
Skewers are a fun way to incorporate all food groups to one dish. There is something about eating food on a stick that makes it even more enjoyable. Plus, when you’re making the skewers, the mix-and-match ingredient possibilities are endless!
The 2020 Produce for Better Health State of the Plate research found that 9 out of 10 Americans do not meet fruit and vegetable recommendations each day. Also, the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) actually highlights dairy as an important contribution to healthy eating.
So, think beyond the cheese on your grilled burger and try combining all types of delicious cheese with produce to increase your dairy consumption and fruits and vegetable servings!
For balanced skewers, build them with:
- At least food groups. Use fruits and vegetables, and add cheese for a dairy group. By incorporating at least three food groups, you’ll ensure a more balanced combination, helping you meet daily value requirements for important nutrients. If you use ingredients that can’t go directly on the grill, thread those on after cooking.
- At least three colors. The more colors, the better! The pigment of the food can tell us what phytonutrients they contain, so if you consume more colors you’ll provide your body with more phytonutrients. Phytonutrients contain antioxidants, which contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Next time you fire up the grill, try out our favorite recipes!