Grilling doesn’t just have to be massive amounts of meat and cheese tossed between two pieces of bread. Even if you don’t go for vegan and vegetarian options, there are plenty of ways to cook up chicken and red meat in healthy ways. Because you avoid cooking with oils and butters, grilling can even be one of the healthiest ways to make meat. When it’s just you and a fire, healthy grilling can make for a healthy lifestyle.
In this post, we’re going to look at some healthy grilling ideas that make your meals a bit healthier. We’re going to look at some healthy grill recipes, and some ways you can make your favorite meats a bit healthier.
Photo by Edson Saldaña on Unsplash
Tips for Healthy Grilling
Keep it Clean
Keeping your grill clean and sparkling is a great way to reduce the buildup of smoke, ash, and contaminants on your grill. That means when you light it up, there’s less of a chance that unsafe chemicals and buildup will transfer onto your meat. We like to improve the cleanliness of our grills by using our famous kick ash baskets, which allow you to get more out of your coals while making it even easier to clean up after grilling.
Choose Lean Cuts
There’s nothing you can do at the grill station to magically turn a piece of meat with a ton of fat into something that has hardly any fat at all. Mostly you’ll just get the juices out, which are not the unhealthy part to begin with. Fat carmelizes and melts quickly at ridiculously high temperatures, but it takes hours for it to melt at lower temperatures. It starts to render at about 130-140 degrees, but the process takes hours.
Unless you’re going to be slow cooking that marbled meat, most of the fat is still going to be around when you pull it off the grill. Nothing wrong with healthy grilled fats, but if you’re trying to keep your red meats healthier, opt for leaner cuts.
Cook the Meat Long Enough
The USDA has a long list of rules about grilling that help you keep your meat safe. As a general rule, beef and pork should get to an internal temperature of at least 145. After you pull it off the grill, give it another few minutes to rest before cutting into it. If you’re really worried about healthy grilling, you’ll want to edge up toward that 145 for the most part. But most people that are cooking for a medium rare steak will land closer to 130 or 135.
Chicken, on the other hand, should always get up to 165 for safety purposes. This will take approximately 12 to 16 minutes if you have it under direct heat on the grill, and 20 to 24 minutes under indirect heat. Overcooked chicken is gross, but you’ll still have plenty of runway for perfection if you get up to that 165.
Healthy Grill Recipes
Look, let’s get something out of the way. At Kick Ash, we love unhealthy grilling. There’s nothing quite carving an entire meal out of a single Kick Ash Beef Brisket. But there are times where you want your grilling to be on the healthier side. Maybe you’re having a BBQ and don’t want to leave behind your vegan and vegetarian friends. Or maybe you’re mid summer and realized that you can’t keep downing beef at the same rate. Either way, here are some great grilling inspirations.
Luckily, if you want to avoid meat altogether, there are still plenty of tasty vegetables and fruit that you can grill up for summer treats. Keep your eyes peeled: the grill can take on some unexpected options. Veggie burgers and beyond meat options won’t quite grill the same way, but here are some other options:
Look, if it’s a vegetable, it will taste great on the grill. Anything from avocado to zucchini is going to taste amazing with a few spices, a quick grill, and a delicious aioli sauce.
Corn is built for the grill. It’s a simple vegetable with a solid structure that can stand up to high heats without folding into mush. Instead of melting, it chars and burns, allowing all the butter and flavors to mix in.
Avocados are a great option if you’re trying to grill with less meat. They’re a sturdy food, ready to take on a variety of flavors without losing consistency.
Finally, remember to toss bunches of asparagus on the grill, if only so you can use them to sweep up this amazing spicy parmesan sauce. To be honest, asparagus is great to make because it’s the perfect delivery for so many sauces. Also try it with hollandaise sauce.
Peaches and pineapples are two of our favorites. A bit of brown sugar on either one, and you’ve got a purely sweet grilling desert.
Healthy BBQ Recipes
When you go for healthy meats, you don’t have to stick to just veggies! Seafood and fish make for healthier grilling options, like a succulent white fish or a tasty rack of shrimp. Plus, seafood is a bit pricier which means you tend to eat less of it!
If you want to make BBQ that’s healthy, just ensure that you’re grilling equal amounts of meat along with veggies and fruit. Skewers are a great way of doing this, because you can combine the juices and hearty flavors of a steak with the crisp, healthy veggies.
Grilled tofu works really well as long as you allow it to rest and dry thoroughly before tossing it onto the grill. Allow the tofu to drain with a large towel with something heavy for about a half hour. While it’s resting, you can start making a marinade out of a half cup each of sherry vinegar, soy sauce, and olive oil. From this base, add seasonings to the mix, like a teaspoon of salt, cayenne pepper, or maybe even garlic powder. Cut the tofu into lengthy, steak-like blocks and marinade the tofu for an hour before grilling. Tofu should stay on a 400 degree grill for about 10 minutes total. 15 if you like it crispy!
Grilled French Toast
French toast is a delightful breakfast which is so similar to pancakes and waffles, yet different in a key way: it already has a structure. The bread and batter format of french toast makes it perfect for tossing it on the grill to get those delicious, crispy grill marks. Pair with fruit and serve for a vegetarian desert or breakfast.
Healthy BBQ Menu
To craft a perfectly healthy BBQ, you’ll need to give equal time to both the meat and the other options. A great way to do this is to serve quality portions that are a little bit smaller. A few bites of a great steak is always better than a plate full of mediocre meat anyway.
When planning a healthier BBQ, try to balance out the veggies, meats, and fruits. The grill is such a perfect tool for bringing out the best in a lot of different foods. Change the ratios, and you’ll have a healthy grilling routine in no time.