Saturday, June 23, 2012

Get Your Grill On: Condiments and Toppings and Marinades...Oh My!

The first step towards healthy grilling is selecting lean cuts of meat. But what you add to that meat can also make or break your best laid plans. The calories and fat from typical add-ons like cheese, mayonnaise and bacon can really add up! Just adding a slice of cheddar cheese and two strips of bacon adds about 170 calories and 15 grams of fat. Yikes!

Instead have plenty of healthier alternatives on hand to build your own “better” burger or sandwich! Get creative with:
  • Lettuce, spinach or spring mix
  • Tomato (try some unique varieties like yellow or heirloom tomatoes for extra flavor)
  • Fresh or grilled onions
  • Sauteed or grilled mushrooms
  • Pickles
  • Salsa
  • Reduced fat cheese; the stronger the better because you can use less! Opt for sharp cheddar made with 2% milk, reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles or light feta.
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Reduced-fat mayo
  • Steak sauce
  • Relish
  • Canadian bacon versus bacon
  • Avocado or guacamole (limit to 1 tablespoon)
  • Sliced pineapple (even better grilled!)
To pack in even more nutrients, try eating your burger or sandwich on a whole grain bun or roll; they have more fiber.

Leaner cuts of meat tend to dry out more readily than higher fat cuts of meat. Keep meats moist and flavorful by using a marinade or rub. Mix up your own when possible as store-bought products can be higher in sodium.

Basic marinades contain a mixture of oil, an acid and seasonings. Make your own simple marinade with heart-healthy olive or canola oil, lemon juice, lime juice or Worcestershire sauce, a dash of salt, pepper, herbs and spices (my favorites are parsley, basil and rosemary or cilantro for a Mexican flair). The Mrs. Dash line of products boasts an array of pre-mixed seasonings to give you a head start in creating a flavorful product. Marinate meats in a covered glass container or plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours in advance of cooking. Don't use the same marinade to baste meat while cooking unless you bring the marinade to a boil first to kill foodbourne illness-causing bacteria.

Barbecue sauce is another popular addition to grilled meats, but use it sparingly because of its higher carbohydrate and calorie content. I suggest marinating meat with seasonings then brushing on barbecue sauce in the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking to add flavor with fewer calories.

By using some of these simple techniques, you’ll be surprised as to how much flavor you can add to your grilled meats sans the fat and calories. You'll feel better, maintain your health goals and look better in your swimsuit!

How do you get creative with sandwich add-ons?

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