Ways to make your next barbecue a healthy one

By The ShopRite Health and Wellness Team

Spring is finally here, and that means it’s time to heat up the grill and start cooking.

A backyard barbecue is a great way to enjoy the warmer weather and the wonderful flavors of grilled food. The best part is that grilling can be one of the healthiest ways to cook.

Food for thought: These grilling tips and techniques can help make your next cookout nutritious and delicious. SOURCE: METRO IMAGES

Below, we’ve compiled some of our best grilling tips and techniques to make your next cookout nutritious and delicious.

• Pick your protein wisely

Seafood, skinless poultry and lean cuts of beef are all good protein options. Fish such as salmon and trout are sources of omega-3 fats. Mix lean ground chicken or turkey with chopped onion, mushrooms and seasonings to make savory burgers that are lower in fat and calories. If you choose to grill pork or red meat, look for “loin” or “round” cuts and “choice” or “select” grades of beef, and trim away any excess fat.

• Add flavor with a marinade

Marinades are an easy and simple way to add flavor to your foods. Either make your own marinade by combining olive oil, vinegar and your favorite herbs and spices, or look for a bottled marinade that is lower in fat and salt.

• Keep food safe

Separate raw and cooked foods by using separate plates and utensils. Ensure that meat and poultry are fully cooked to the proper temperatures by using a meat thermometer. Hamburgers should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and chicken should be cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

• Look beyond meat

Grilled vegetables and fruit can be a healthy and delicious addition to your cookout. Make colorful kabobs by alternating chunks of skinless chicken breast with onions and peppers. Or go meatless with skewers of grilled eggplant topped with cherry tomatoes, portabella mushrooms, or both. For dessert, serve grilled pineapple or peaches with a scoop of frozen yogurt on the side for a light but flavorful end to your cookout. ••

For more tips on healthy grilling, stop by the office of your local ShopRite in-store dietitian.