Tips to Guilt-Free Grilling

 

A balanced diet has become an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Grilling is easy and offers a host of new meal options to prepare. As you know, it’s also a great way to amplify flavor without adding calories. It is one of the leanest cooking methods because it does not require adding fat. Because grilling allows fatty juices to drip away from foods, it is a top cooking method for many people looking to maintain a healthy diet this summer.

  • When you cook meats on the grill, be sure to trim any external fat from the meat before grilling. Choose lean meats such as: pork tenderloin, top loin chop, center loin chop, rib chop or sirloin roast.
  • Grilling is also beneficial because meat cooks quickly, so the natural tenderness and flavor of the meats are maintained. Many propane and charcoal grills include vents which can be adjusted to allow for air and moisture circulation, which helps you control the smoky flavor. Grilled meat often enhances the intended flavor and texture of many meats and vegetables without sacrificing essential nutrients.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that pork can be safely cooked to medium rare, at a cooked temperature 145 degrees Fahrenheit as measured on a food thermometer, followed by a three-minute rest time. The revised recommendation applies to pork whole muscle cuts, such as loin, chops and roasts. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

 

For a simple way to enhance the flavor of any lean cut, encourage the use of sodium-free spices versus heavy creams and oils. Salt-free spices offer flavor without bringing additional fat and calories to the table. 

  • Ground black pepper and prepared spices blends like Mrs. Dash are great alternatives to salt. A variety of spice blends work well with pork’s mild flavor.
  • Spices with bold flavors like cumin, coriander and cayenne work great with pork. Rubs can be applied just before grilling or the night before cooking.
  • Rosemary and cinnamon are great flavor enhancers and increase flavor intensity especially in pork. 

For a small investment in effort, marinades give you big payoffs at the dinner table. Marinades also provide a chance to showcase your creativity.  Marinades can come straight from fruit and vegetable purees too!

  • Skip heavy, sugar-based marinades, as most are loaded with extra calories that can increase the chance for charring.
  • Vinegar mixtures, like Italian dressing, can reduce the risk of carcinogen formation on any grilled meat. Citrus juice, herbs, spices, and olive oil make great ingredients for marinades.
  • Pairing meat with citrus fruits will ensure your Vitamin C nutrient needs are met, as well as providing a great source of antioxidants. 
  • In addition to marinating, to maximize the natural flavor of lean meats, such as pork tenderloin and ham, pair with fresh fruits and vegetables to brighten and lighten up summertime meals. Beta carotene, an essential antioxidant, can be found in sweet potatoes, carrots and many leafy greens such as cabbage, kale and spinach. If you are looking to kick up the fiber intake a notch, add sliced apples, strawberries or prunes to your grilling skewer or pork tenderloin salad.

Depending on your preference, lean pork can be cooked in a variety of healthy ways. Below are some simple recipes that any novice can master.

Cajun Grilled Chops
Spices are a great way to add bold flavor without adding fat.

Grilled Chimichurri Pork Roast
This grill recipe is great. Prepare the day before and simply close the cover and let the grill do all the work with no fussing, leaving you time to spend with family and friends.

Grilled Indian Pork Kabobs with Sweet Onions and Red Bell Peppers
These delicious, colorful kabobs are terrific served with rice pilaf or flavorful couscous and a medley of grilled vegetables.

Grilled Tenderloin with Cumin, Green Tomatillos and Onion Salsa
Tomatillos can be found in Mexican grocery stores and some larger markets or even at farmers markets. Serve with pan-fried potato slices and fresh seasonal fruit