Well…the sun HAS come up every morning after our sad week of Wisconsin sports last week with the Brewers and Badgers. I am pretty sure I also had happy tears when the Brewers FINALLY pulled out a win on Saturday.
I had the…umm….err….’privilege’ to go to Opening Day for the Brewers, and aside from the really bad pitching and unfortunate Rockie blowout, it was a blast! It’s always fun for me to get the grill out and hang out in the sunshine with friends.
I usually do a blog post about healthy tailgating around this time of year, and I plan to keep that tradition alive! Even if you aren’t a tailgater, April and May tend to kick-off the wedding/reunion/graduation/’just-because’ party season, and that also means lots of opportunities at delicious food and drinks.
When I think of tailgating and other gatherings, I think of firing up the grill and hanging out with friends. Grilling can be a great and easy way to try new delicacies—many of which are healthier and have less fat and calories than the typical fare that is served.
On Opening Day, I grilled my typical portabella mushroom, but tried a new ‘black forest’ marinade that was to die for (pretty sure I could marinade wood chips in it, and I’d eat them!). Now, I’m assuming this blog will not cause people to give up their brats and burgers for fungus on the grill, but hopefully it will prompt a few ideas about other options that are flavorful and offer a healthier fare for those get-togethers.
AKA…the meats! White meat, such as chicken and turkey and some cuts of pork (not bacon, sorry!) are going to be healthier options on the grill than burgers, brats, hot dogs and steaks. If you’re a fish fanatic, that’s another great option for getting your lean protein, and feeling fancy while grilling. Portion sizes for any type of meat you put on the grill is going to be important, even if it is of the white meat variety. It is recommended that adult men and women consume between 5-6 oz. of meat/protein daily. You can earn bonus points by removing the skin from chicken and turkey before indulging, and if you are craving red meat, making sure you choose lean cuts!
This may seem sacrilegious to the grill guru, but there are tons of vegetable options that you can throw on the grill and feel good about eating! One of my favorites is the obvious portabella mushroom that you can sneak into a bun, and disguise as a burger. It’s an easy one to grill without fear of ruining, and keeps me full with little calories. Just about any vegetable you can grill—asparagus, potatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, corn on the cob, zucchini—you name it and it’s doable! Vegetables can be an awesome addition to any meal, and can be jazzed up with a little olive oil, marinades and/or seasoning. For extra fun, chop the vegetables, put them on a skewer (with some meat) and grill together for a kabob. Win, win AND it’s fun to eat on a stick!
This is one area that I’m not very familiar with grilling. I have grilled pineapple and peaches before, but had to do a little more research about what fruit you can grill. From what I found on the internet, bananas, pears, cantaloupe, and nectarines are popular and I would imagine there are others you can use!
My personal favorites have been peaches and pineapple on the grill as a dessert and a break from the rich tailgating food, and they have gone over extremely well with friends. You get that sweet and a little smoky fix, and it’s that much easier to avoid the other desserts that may be lingering.
Throw a couple of pineapple chunks on your kabob with lean meat and vegetables and you have a dynamic meal that you can feel good about.
I won’t touch on this much because when I think of grilling and carbs/grains, I think of the bun that I’m going to put my mushroom in. When picking up supplies for grilling, I always try and pick whole grain buns or even the lower calorie bagel and sandwich thins to save on calories and to help highlight the goodies that are going to be in-between the bread.
The other thing I have done on the grill that is carb-related is pizza. Hear me out now…you can buy pre-made or make your own pizza dough (whole wheat, preferably), line the crust with olive oil or sauce and build away your perfect pizza with vegetables, meat and seasonings. It’s a fun way to break out of the rut (if there’s such a thing) of grilling and try something different.
Grilling signifies warmer weather is here, and fun times ahead with friends and various sporting events. There are many ways to keep your health and wellness goals in check while hosting a get-together or heading to a party, and don’t be afraid to break out of the box and try something new