The summer season has just begun and for many tha
t means breaking out
the grill and BBQing. Grilling can be a great way to cook lean and to
maintain your summer "beach" shape.
Where many people go wrong though
is they choose the wrong sides and deserts. But do not despair, the
healthy grill master is here to provide you with some great recipes for
not just the main fare, but your sides and desserts that are not only
delicious but healthy too!
Healthy BBQ Entrées
Jeff Behar's Healthy Veggie Kebabs
Veggie kebabs can be practically anything you can stick on a skewer.
Try corn on the cob pieces, artichoke quarters, squash (leave the skin
on to give it shape), peppers, potatoes (choose new potatoes or small
ones you can put on whole of in halves with the skin on), and anything
else you find at the store. Vegetable kebabs are easy.
You will want to pick vegetables that will cook in about the same
amount of time. You can also choose items you like undercooked and add
them to vegetables that cook faster.
vegetables are easy to put onto a stick, especially if you are using
metal skewers. Some vegetables can be hard. Take corn on the cob for
instance. Cut the cobs into quarters or thirds. Push a metal skewer
straight down the center and you've got it ready to go.
veggies caramelize when cooked and will not need any added flavor, like
meats you can also choose to add spices or marinate your veggies for
added flavor. Marinades can be basic and simple. A low fat italian
dressing is a great marinade because it contains oil, vinegar, herbs,
and spices. It keeps the vegetables moist, limits burning, and adds
flavor. Brush your kebabs with your marinade at least 30 minutes before
they hit the grill.
When grilling vegetable kebabs you will want to give them some good
heat, but you don't want them getting a lot of direct heat. Keep your
veggies to a cooler part of the grill or grill them indirectly with the
other burners going on high. If you are using charcoal you will want an
indirect fire, or a single layer fire. This will give the veggies the
heat they need to get cooked, but also prevent them from burning.
this kind of heat a normal veggie kebab will take about 10 to 15
minutes to cook. Final cooking time will depend upon several factors
such as the amount of veggies on the stick, size of the veggies,
temperature of the grill, etc, so adjust your cooking times and you'll
be pulling off the kebabs a few minutes after you've taken the steaks
in to rest.
Try this recipe for a colorful medley of vegetables, lightly coated
with olive oil and thyme, makes a great accompaniment to just about any
grilled main course.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Bake/Cook time: 15 minutes
- 2 medium zucchini, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 18 large white mushrooms, washed, stems removed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Fat: 2 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 6 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Note: Soak bamboo skewers in water for 10 minutes (so they don't burn on the grill)
MJ Chicken Kebabs
Marinating these chicken kebabs all-day or overnight in a simple
blend of yogurt and lemon juice makes them succulent and juicy, but
the active cooking time is only about a half an hour, so they're a
great quick dinner.
For a nutritious side, thread cipollini onions,
red-pepper chunks, and mushrooms on a skewer and brush with olive oil
to grill alongside the chicken.
6g Total fat
2g Saturated Fat
As a side to this dish you can add a salad or more grilled vegetables.
This will add fiber to this meal helping you feel full.
Note: Soak bamboo skewers in water for 10 minutes (so they don't burn
on the grill).
Behar-BQ BBQ Pork Chops
Lean pork chops make a nice change from eating chicken, and the
leanest cuts-from the loin-are leaner than chicken thighs, so don't
feel guilty about eating pork chops from time to time. As with all
meats, be sure to trim any excess fat before cooking. These barbecued
pork chops are tangy and delicious.
4 lean loin pork chops, trimmed of fat
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown
- Mix cider vinegar,
brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and chili powder in a
- Place pork chops in
a large resealable plastic bag.
- Marinades can
tenderize the surface of the meat only to about 1/4 inch. That's why
it's important to make sure the marinade covers the entire surface of
your meat. It also helps to score the meat (cut into the surface about
1/4 inch deep with a sharp knife in several places) before coating it
- Pour marinade into bag and cover chops with it.
- Marinate for at least 4-6 hours in the refrigerator.
grill or broiler.
grill with high-temperature nonstick cooking spray before heating; or
spray broiler rack while broiler is heating.
- Place marinated chops on grill or broiler and cook until done,
about 5 minutes per side.
Per Serving :Calories 241, Calories from Fat 68, Total Fat 7.6g (sat
2.6g), Cholesterol 90mg, Sodium 449mg, Carbohydrate 11.5g, Fiber 0.9g,
Titillating Turkey Burgers
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 pound extra-lean ground turkey breast
1/3 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup minced onion
1 slice bread made into breadcrumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- Divide mixture into
four and form four 1/2-inch thick patties.
- Grill turkey burgers
for 5-6 minutes per side, to an internal temperature of 165
Per Serving: Calories 203, Calories from Fat 23, Total Fat 2.6g (sat
0.1g), Cholesterol 45mg, Sodium 399mg, Carbohydrate 14.9g, Fiber 1.6g,
Apricot-Orange Grilled Tenderloin
You can have your pork tenderloin marinating in the apricot-orange
glaze the night before your barbecue. Instead of coating the outside
of each tenderloin with a tablespoon of oil and then brushing it with
the glaze as it grills, we're marinating it directly in the glaze.
- 1 cup apricot jam (apricot-pineapple can also be used)
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 pork tenderloins,
about 1.25 pounds each
- Add glaze
ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk until blended. Reserve a couple
tablespoons of glaze to serve with cooked pork. Keep this in the
refrigerator until pork is served.
- Cover tenderloins
well with remaining glaze in a large plastic container.
- Cover the container
and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, turning once or
- Cook the pork, get
your barbecue going if using coals.
- When the coals are
good and hot, cook the tenderloins over direct heat about 2 minutes,
then flip over for 2 more minutes.
- Reposition the pork
for indirect heat, cover the grill, and continue to cook about 30
- Let meat rest for 10
minutes, then cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and arrange on a serving
platter along with a small dish of the reserved glaze.
Yield: 8 servings
Per serving (with one-fourth of the glaze being eaten): 200 calories,
31 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 2 g
monounsaturated fat, 0.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, .1
g fiber, 112 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 24%.
Yaz Grilled Pork Loin with Fire-Roasted Pineapple Salsa
A lively citrus-chile marinade spices up the mild flavor of the
grilled pork loin in this dish, while a quick and easy salsa of seared
fresh pineapple, red peppers, and onions carries the sweet-and-spicy
theme a delicious step further. The resulting delicious flavor
bursting dish is low in fat and carbs and packed with protein and
1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp mild or hot chili powder (or achiote paste)
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
1 small golden pineapple (about 1 1/2 lb), diced into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup pineapple (or orange) juice
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Vegetable oil cooking spray
- Mix tomato paste
with chili powder.
- Combine with orange
juice, lime juice and oil in a double resealable bag.
- Add tenderloin and
marinate at least 3 hours.
- Heat a large pan
over high heat to the smoking point, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Brown pineapple 4 to
5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pineapple juice and stir 1
minute, scraping up brown bits from pan.
- Remove pineapple
- Combine in a bowl
with pepper, onion and basil.
- Heat a grill or
grill pan over high. Coat with cooking spray.
- Remove pork from
marinade; place on grill. (Discard excess marinade.)
- Reduce heat to
medium; cook, turning occasionally, until pork is no longer pink and
internal temperature is 160º, 18 to 20 minutes.
- Let pork rest 5
minutes before slicing.
- Spoon salsa over
Per Serving: 325 calories per serving, 10.2 g fat (2.7 g saturated),
33.8 g carbs, 4.2 g fiber, 26.8 g protein
Hunters Grilled Salmon with Grilled Asparagus Spears
Salmon makes a great alternative to meat. Salmon is one of the
best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to
lower heart disease risk. This is delicious served with natural, low fat yoghurt, salad and
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
4 sheets 12-inch by 18-inch foil wrap
4 5-ounce salmon fillets
1 pound asparagus
1/4 cup lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
- Place a whole fillet onto a sheet of foil large enough to make a
- Slice half a lemon and layer over the top of the salmon.
- Squeeze the other half over the fish, season and wrap the foil to make
a make a generous parcel and refrigerate overnight (to allow the
flavors to fuse).
- Break ends off asparagus spears and divide spears into four portions.
- Drizzle with lemon juice and add fresh ground black pepper.
- Bring up
sides of foil and fold the top over twice.
- Seal the ends.
on the barbecue for about 10 -15 minutes - depending on
thickness of fillet.
- Be careful when opening the foil packs, as the
steam will be very hot.
Per Serving: Calories 253, Calories form Fat 78, Total Fat 8.6g (sat
1.9g), Cholesterol 64mg, Sodium 68mg, Carbohydrate 10.4g, Fiber 2.6g,
Lighter Side Dishes
One of the best things about a barbecue is the variety of foods on
offer - so don't limit this simply to what you cook on the grill. A
bit of pre-planning will ensure a healthy choice of accompaniments
(steer clear of supermarket coleslaw and potato salad - these are
laced with fat).
Here are some healthy, low fat substitutes.
The USDA guidelines recommend eating a variety of fruits and
vegetables each day, selecting from all five vegetable subgroups: dark
green vegetables, legumes (beans), starchy vegetables, orange
vegetables, and other vegetables. Instead of potato chips, which can be high in saturated and trans
fats, serve raw veggies like cucumber, carrot and celery sticks,
cherry tomatoes and broccoli and cauliflower florets with a low-fat
Grilling vegetables is a fantastic way to bring out their flavor
without adding extra calories or fat. Their natural flavors are
concentrated giving them a richer taste than boiling or steaming
would. Also an important point: grilling some vegetables even
slightly can help boost bioavailability. Tomatoes are a classic
example. Flavonoids in cooked tomatoes are better absorbed than raw
tomatoes. Note: cooking is not always good. It kills antioxidants in
You can grill almost anything, but asparagus, bell peppers, yellow
squash, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, yams and beets are an easy place to
start. They're firm and won't fall apart on the grill.
to grilling veggies is cutting them into shapes and sizes that cook
well on the grill. When you cook them over direct medium heat, turning
frequently, they'll usually be done in 8-10 minutes (sometimes less,
depending on the vegetable). Look for grill marks and some light
browning to develop.
work especially well on the grill.
- Red, white, or sweet
onion, sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds.
- Beets, sliced into
1/2-inch thick rounds.
- Yams, Sweet
Potatoes, cut lengthwise.
- Sweet Corn on the
cob (take off the husks and silks). Sweetcorn cooked on the BBQ is
delicious and acquires a taste unobtainable with any other form of
cooking. Pre-boil it until just tender, to keep it juicy and speed up
cooking time on the "Barbie". Then, place it directly on the
grill and turn until charred on the outside. Resist the temptation for
lashings of butter - you won't need it!
- Whole mushrooms.
Grill portabellas like a burger or them cut into thick slices; grill
small mushrooms strung on a skewer or kabob.
- Eggplant, cut
lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices.
- Zucchini, cut
lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices.
- Asparagus spears.
Just trim off the white end and grill the spears whole.
Beets and yams are two of my grill favorites.
Their natural sugar
caramelizes during cooking, so they become deliciously sweet. Both are
also high in antioxidants.
If you are stuck for time you can use
canned beets (simmered) and canned yams because fresh ones take longer
to cook. You can also precook them in the oven if you prefer fresh
You can keep the preparation simple and still achieve a bold taste. To
add some punch you can sprinkle them with herbs.
More Low Fat Healthy Side Dishes
Lean Mean Potato Salad
Picnic potato salads are big fat traps, but picnics and cookouts just
wouldn't be the same without potato salad. There are ways to make low
fat versions. and creamy. Substitute low fat or fat free mayonnaise,
yogurt or sour cream for the full fat versions. Low-fat buttermilk is
another great option, too. If you add eggs to your potato salads, lose
the yolks. Here is a delicious low fat recipe with just 0.5 grams of
saturated fat per serving!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
- 2 tbsp Dijonnaise
- 1/2 pounds small white potatoes, unpeeled, and cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
- 1 6-ounce pot plain low fat yogurt, drained
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook potatoes until tender.
- Drain and allow to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine red onion, Dijonnaise and plain yogurt.
- Add cooled potatoes and mix well.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Per Serving: Calories 125, Calories from Fat 5 (sat 0.5g), Cholesterol
0.3mg, Sodium 95mg, Carbohydrate 26.4g, Fiber 2.1g, Protein 3.7g
Low Fat Macaroni Salad
Use elbow macaroni or ditaloni, the short tube pasta.
Prep Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.
Cook Time: 8 minutes
- cups dry macaroni or ditaloni
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 1 cup chopped red pepper
- 1/2 cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/3 cup fat-free mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup low fat plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Cook macaroni according to package directions.
- Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine cooled macaroni, chopped celery, pepper, cucumber, and onion.
- In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt and mustard.
- Add to pasta salad and toss well to coat. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Per Serving: Calories 165, Calories from Fat 11, Total Fat 1.2g (sat
0.2g), Cholesterol 3mg, Sodium 196mg, Carbohydrate 32.6g, Fiber 1.9g,
If you make coleslaw dressing, use low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise as
the base. For rice, bean, corn or tomato salads, reverse the oil to
vinegar ratio. It's usually three parts oil to one part vinegar. If the
dressing is too tart, it's fine to dilute it a little with a tablespoon
of water or broth.
Three Bean You Stay Lean as a String Bean Salad
One of my favorite salads is Three Bean Salad. It's a low fat, high
fiber and high protein salad, which you can serve at any summer
gathering. It's delicious at room temperature, but you can serve it
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup minced shallots
- 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
- Steam or cook the green beans in a pot of boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until tender-crisp.
- Drain and plunge beans into cold water to stop cooking and retain color.
- Combine cooked green beans with cannellini beans, kidney beans and shallots in a large bowl.
- Whisk vinegar, oil and mustard and drizzle over bean mixture.· Toss gently.·
- Serve chilled or at room temperature. Serves 6-8.
Per Serving: Calories 184, Calories from Fat
21, Total Fat 2.4g (sat 0.3g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 281mg,
Carbohydrate 30.4g, Fiber 9.5g, Protein 10.3g
My Favorite Summer Time Low Fat Deserts
Instead of opting
for high fat, high calories heart clogging deserts opt for a healthy
Coconut Cream White Cake
You can make this cake a day ahead of time.
If you can't find light canned coconut milk, use 3/4 cup fat-free
half-and-half plus 3/4 teaspoon coconut extract.
1 box (18.26 ounces) white cake mix
1 large egg (use a higher omega-3 brand if available)
1/2 cup egg substitute (or 4 egg whites)
1/3 cup fat-free sour cream
1 cup water or low-fat milk
3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
3/4 cup light coconut milk (available in cans; see substitute
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon fat-free sweetened condensed milk
3 cups light or fat-free Cool Whip (light whipping cream can also be
- 1/2 cup flaked
coconut (regular or toasted)
- Preheat oven to 350
degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with canola cooking
- Add cake mix, egg,
egg substitute, sour cream, water, and coconut extract to a large
mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape sides of
bowl after a minute of mixing. Pour evenly into prepared baking dish
and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in cake comes
- In a 4-cup measure,
blend sauce ingredients until smooth.
- When cake comes out
of the oven, poke large holes evenly over the top with chopsticks or a
barbecue fork. Pour milk mixture slowly over the top, so it soaks into
the cake. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or
- Just before serving,
spread light Cool Whip (or other whipped topping) over the top of cake
and sprinkle with the coconut.
Yield: About 18 servings
Per serving: 195 calories, 4 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat, 3
g saturated fat, 2 g monounsaturated fat, 1 g polyunsaturated fat, 11
mg cholesterol, 0.5 g fiber, 223 mg sodium. Calories from fat:
Summer Fresh Strawberry Cocktail
For this fresh and healthy desert, all you need is pack of fresh strawberries, a sprinkle of sugar
and some aged balsamic vinegar. Vinegar? Trust me, you won't taste
"vinegar," but you will enjoy delicious, sweet
Prep Time: 25 minutes
1 pound fresh, ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Place strawberries
in a medium sized bowl.
- Sprinkle sugar, and
then gently stir.
- Leave to stand for
- Drizzle balsamic
vinegar over strawberries.
- Gently stir one more
- Refrigerate or let
stand for at least an hour.
Per Serving: Calories 54, Calories from Fat 4, Total Fat 0.4g (sat
0g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 1mg, Carbohydrate 11.8g, Fiber 2.6g,
MJ Say Hey Summer Parfait
Summer parfaits are easy to make and look extremely attractive when
layered in clear glasses or dessert bowls.
Cook Time: 10 minutes
1 3 1/2 ounce pack of instant vanilla pudding and pie mix
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 cups of fresh mixed berries, divided
Berries for garnish
1 1/2 cups fat-free whipped topping
- Whisk vanilla
pudding and pie mix using fat-free milk.
- Whisk for 2
- Leave pudding to
stand and thicken for a few minutes.
- Divide 1 cup of
fruit between four dessert glasses.
- Use half the vanilla
pudding, divided among the four glasses.
- Add half the whipped
topping, followed by another layer of fruit, pudding and whipped
- Garnish with a slice
or two of strawberries or a few blueberries.
- Refrigerate until
ready to serve.
Per Serving: Calories 196, Calories from Fat 5, Total Fat 0.5g (sat
0.1g), Cholesterol 2mg, Sodium 406mg, Carbohydrate 44.3g, Fiber 1.9g,
More Healthy Desserts
- Fruit Kebobs. Make
fruit kebabs-these are very popular with kids. Skewer chunks of
banana, strawberries, mangoes and pineapple. Make a dipping sauce from
chocolate syrup or low-fat vanilla yogurt. Grill some pineapple, peach
or nectarine halves and add a little brown sugar and low fat whipped
- Grilled Fruit
Medley. Grilling fruit is a best kept secret! When the coals have died
down and the heat is low, is the best time to add raw fruit to the
grill. Be sure not to use overly ripe fruit or it will stick and burn.
Try grilling fruits like pineapple slices, nectarines, peaches or
plums - the natural sugars caramelize with the heat and give them
great flavor. Fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals and
fiber - and they're low in calories.
- A bowl of fresh
fruit salad. Fruits can add fiber to your diet as well as important
vitamins and other nutrients. Citrus and colorful fruits are
rich with antioxidants. Vitamin C antioxidant fruits include
cantaloupe, honeydew melons; citrus fruits and strawberries, among
others. Carotenoids, which the body converts to Vitamin A, are found
in the most deep/bright colored fruits including
- Grilled Banana Mud.
While he charcoal is dying down, pop some bananas (in their skins)
wrapped in tin foil on the shelf and leave for about 10 minutes. When
you unwrap them you'll have a delicious gooey banana
- Angel food cake
topped with fruit. Serve blueberries and strawberries with angel food
cake and low fat or fat free whipped topping. Serve with frozen yogurt
instead of ice cream.
- Summer Fresh Smoothie. A smoothie with
luscious fresh fruit in season, fat-free vanilla or lemon yogurt and a
touch of honey.
- Fruit slushies. Make
fruit slushies using your favorite combination of fruit, low-fat milk
or yogurt, and ice.
About the Author
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA is a recognized health, fitness and nutrition expert, regularly writing about hot topics in the areas of health, fitness, disease prevention, nutrition, anti aging and alternative medicine. His work also often appears in several of the major health and fitness newsletters, health and fitness magazines, and on major health, and fitness websites. Behar is also a well sought after personal trainer, motivational speaker, and weight loss expert.
Jeff Behar, MS, MBA