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Healthy Tahoe: Tips for a great grilling season

Kristine Travis, MS RDN
Chimichurri grilled vegetables
Provided / Kristine Travis

With the weather lately, chances are you have already started cooking dinner outdoors. Grilling and eating dinner outside can also be a great way to more safely interact with friends and family.

Here are a few tips to ensure your grilled meals are delicious, healthy, and easy all summer long.

Tip One: A clean grill is a happy grill. Food, especially fish, will stick less to a clean grill. Use a steel grill brush to brush off the grates, then wipe with a damp cloth or paper towel. Lastly, rub the grates before heating them using an oiled paper towel. To properly cook food, make sure you preheat the grill.

Tip Two: Temperature matters. Let meat sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. This allows for more even cooking through the protein. Then, create hot and warm zones on the grill and move meat and veggies around as needed.

Use a thermometer to check for doneness; undercooked can be dangerous and overcooked is just plain disappointing. Let meat rest under a “tent” of foil for 10 minutes to seal in juiciness and flavor – even burgers need 5 minutes to reabsorb some juices and not saturate the bun. Your tastebuds with thank you.

Tip Three: A word on health. High heat grilling, as well as that browning of meat and vegetables that we all love, produces carcinogens. While cooking unprocessed food at home is probably healthier than any meal out, you can negate the risks by using a marinade or rub with herbs and spices, the more the better.

These will provide antioxidants to counteract the carcinogens. Also, cook your red meat to the minimum level you will enjoy. (Like medium rare? Go for it!) Throw some vegetables on as well; they will add a great dose of antioxidants to your meal to mitigate some of the grilling process. Speaking of which…

Tip Four: Don’t forget the veggies. Grilling meat is fun, but no dinner is complete without vegetables.

Make sure they are dressed for (flavor) success with quality olive oil, salt and pepper, and whatever specific herbs and spices you like. Cook vegetables over a medium heat, and parboil harder vegetables, like beets or potatoes, before grilling to have them cook through more easily.

With these tips, get outside and enjoy this beautiful summer with friends and family around the grill. Here is a vegetable recipe to accompany any meat you love to grill. Enjoy!

Chimichurri Grilled Vegetables

Adapted from foodiecrush.com

Ingredients:

1 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, rough stems removed

⅓ cup cilantro, rough stems removed*

⅓ cup fresh oregano, rough stems removed

⅓ cup roughly chopped red onion or shallots

3 garlic cloves, peeled

½ tsp red pepper flakes

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

½ tsp coarsely ground salt

Any assortment of vegetables you enjoy, like asparagus, onion, zucchini, and eggplant

Olive oil, salt and pepper to season the vegetables

*If you don’t like cilantro, omit and add more parsley

Directions:

Add parsley, cilantro, organo, onion, and garlic to a food processor and pulse to mince. Add red pepper flakes, olive oil, vinegar, and lemon juice and salt and pulse to combine.

Taste and add more salt and red pepper flakes to your preference. If you don’t have a food processor, finely mince all herbs and onion and garlic, and whisk with remaining ingredients in a bowl. You can store in the refrigerator for 1-3 days if made ahead.Cut the vegetables into roughly the same size. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay on a medium heat grill, 350-450 degrees, laying so they don’t fall through the grates. Close lid and cook, flipping after 3-5 minutes, until desired level of doneness.

Once the vegetables are off the grill, generously drizzle chimichurri sauce on and serve. Feel free to add chimichurri sauce to your meat as well.

Kristine Travis, MS RDN, is a registered dietitian at Barton Memorial Hospital.


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