Forget greasy, charred burgers and those hot dogs that score a nutritional zero. Getting out your grill doesn’t need to mean you have to pile on the fat or calories. In fact, grilling can not only be one of the healthiest ways to cook, it’s also one of the tastiest. By taking global flavors straight to your backyard, you can enjoy all the charred, smoky goodness of healthy grilled recipes with a side of smug self-satisfaction.
Turkish Chicken & Vegetable Kebabs
The Turkish have been perfecting the art of healthy outdoor barbecuing for centuries now, so giving one of their favorites a whirl on your summer BBQ can make a nice, healthy change. Marinated, low-fat chicken breast is skewered on to kebabs with vegetables and grilled up to perfection. If you want to stretch the meat out a bit or get more veggies on your plate, just slide a few extra vegetables on. Serve it up the Turkish way with plenty of chili sauce and some cooling cacik dip, along with grilled pita and a lovely salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and parsley.
Asian Grilled & Marinated Tofu
OK, so you knew that tofu was going to make it onto this list somewhere. Tofu certainly has its fair share of fans and foes, but grilling it might just change the mind of a hater. Low in both fat and calories, it’s perfect served between a bun as a burger, or even topping a salad of beautiful summer greens. If you’re unsure about the amounts the chef in our example video is using for his marinade, try this Asian ginger marinade that is great for tofu (and even meats as well!). Try it with a colorful vegetable stir fry and rice for a heartier meal.
Fiery Caribbean Scotch Bonnet Grilled Shrimp
When the temperature climbs higher in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands, it seems that the spices get even hotter. We don’t pretend to understand why, but it works at cooling you down. Shrimp are a great source of protein and pretty easy to score throughout most of the country. Did you know that hot and spicy foods can also get your blood pumping, helping to keep your heart healthy and your metabolism in full drive? Try staying with that island vibe by serving this up with some traditional rice and peas, a cooling salad and lots of fresh fruit at the end.
Mexican Grilled Fish Tacos
Ain’t no party like a taco party! Tacos are the ultimate food for a get-together, as everyone can customize their own taco, they’re perfectly munchable, and are quick and easy for any host to throw together. While many joints deep fry their fish for tacos, this recipe goes with the grill, making it an infinitely healthier choice. Be sure to serve with lots of homemade guacamole, homemade salsa and extra hot sauce for those who like it a bit more fiery. Even though the fish gets the lime treatment in the beginning, an extra wedge or two of lime never goes amiss here, either.
Make The Switch From Beef
You may love your tasty steaks and burgers, but have you ever considered any of the alternative meats out there on the market? Both ostrich and bison nutritionally knock out beef in everything from lower fat content and fewer calories to a higher ratio of protein, ounce for ounce. Their flavor is quite rich and beef-like, meaning you won’t really even need to miss that juicy burger you’re craving. You can try it as a steak as the chap above is doing, or simply use either ground ostrich or bison meat to make your favorite burger recipe. Both your heart and your stomach will thank you.
Made of healthy chickpeas and spices, falafels tick all the right boxes. That is, until you dunk them in boiling hot oil and fry them off. Fortunately, this slider recipe can stand up to the mighty weight of the grill with little to no trouble. Though the demo will show the chef pan-frying these, you can easily do this with some aluminum foil on the grill and by oiling the patties before you put them on the foil. It also helps if you form the patties and give them a quick visit to the fridge for about 30 minutes before cooking, just to firm them up. Serve these as you would regular sliders, or go all Middle Eastern with plenty of chopped veggies, grilled pita and a tahini sauce.
Grilled Vegetable & Pesto Stuffed Sandwich
While it’s easy to make for two, this brimful-of-veggie sandwich could easily be doubled or even quadrupled with a bigger loaf of bread and would make an excellent party treat. Don’t be afraid to really hollow out the inside of that bread and cram it full of the good stuff. The more you stuff, the better it will taste. This is also easy to make a few hours before and keep in the fridge until the party is getting going. Give it a quick heat up in the oven, and presto — snacks are served.
Beer Can Chicken
Wait a minute, have we lost our minds? Beer? And chicken? Nope, we haven’t. Grilling up your chicken this way is actually extremely healthy, as it uses the steam from the beer and a minimal amount of oil just to have the spices stick. What you end up with is exceptionally moist, delicious tender chicken, all while getting that sizzling brown love from the heat of the BBQ. We promise it won’t taste like beer, and it’s also okay for the kids, as the alcohol evaporates in the process.
Indian Lamb Kebabs
If you love the spices of Indian food, then you’re sure to fall in love with these lamb kebabs. Actually made of minced lamb, the heat of the grill will be getting rid of most of the fat and calories, leaving you with a delicious and nutritious meal. These hold up surprisingly well to the heat of the outdoor BBQ, and go particularly well with an extra squeeze of lemon at the end. Try serving these with fluffy naan bread and some mint riata, along with lots of fresh coriander/cilantro for sprinkling on top.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
You can pull this one right out of the “You Can’t Do That On A Grill” book, because it not only can be done, but it’s healthier and decidedly moreish to boot. Slices of eggplant get a lot less oil when exposed to the heat of the grill, and also take on a smoky, charred flavor that’s pretty irresistible when paired with tomato sauce and a bit of strong Italian cheese. If you’re making this for a dinner party, try doing your eggplant in advance so your baking on the night is as easy as pizza pie.