Beyond the Hamburger: Healthy Grilling Alternatives

It’s summertime, and for many families that means throwing some burgers and hot dogs on the grill for a nice outdoors evening meal. This might sound sacrilegious, but there are other things that you can grill other than beef and recycled pork parts. A juicy hamburger is great, but there are also some really healthy and equally tasty options out there for people who want to curb their indulgent eating habits.

Not convinced? Consider this: there are some really good grillable foods out there, packed with nutrients and healthy goodness that you’d never find in a meat patty. Whether you’re at a barbeque at a park with some friends, or simply grilling in your backyard with those closest to you, you can feel confident cooking these foods without people asking for a burger.

Seafood

Let’s ease into this subject with foods that can still be considered meat. Seafood is almost always the healthier alternative to red meat, if just because of the lower calorie count. But grilled seafood boasts more than lower calories: most fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins B and D, and minerals such as potassium and calcium. In case you didn’t know, omega 3 fatty acids are critical molecules that help your body combat heart disease, improve brain function, and assist in cell production. This is important stuff!

The possibilities for grilled seafood are limitless. You can grill a mild fish like a tilapia and use it as a vehicle for some smoky fish tacos with a homemade or store-bought salsa; you could make some delicious shrimp kabobs with a marinade that packs a nice citrus bite; you could even grill scallops and oysters for a more exotic meal (it’s much better than it sounds). Fish like salmon and tuna cook like steak, with thick, juicy, and flavorful meat that will make you forget all about the standard burger.

Veggies

Don’t forget your veggies! There’s something about the char that veggies get from grilling that make them indescribably tasty. These aren’t your grandmother’s steamed veggies that she tried to get you to eat when you were a kid: we’re talking about bold and robust flavors that will have you coming back for seconds and thirds. And unlike eating several burgers in a row, you won’t feel bad about loading up on grilled veggies!

You can grill just about any veggie to success, but let me offer a few classic methods. Onions always taste great grilled, preferably when they’re cut into thick rounds and drizzled with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper prior to grilling. You can apply the same method to zucchini, asparagus, eggplant, artichokes (yes, really), and even carrots. The bounty of vitamins, minerals, and fiber in each bite should be enough reason for you to try these delicious grilled delights.

Fruit

Yes, you can (and should) grill fruit. You might consider this the strangest healthy grilling option available, but the fact of the matter is that most fruits taste great after being grilled. The smokiness and high temperature from the grill help take away some of the sweetness of fruit, transforming it into a sweet and savory taste sensation. Great fruits for grilling include pineapples, peaches, mangoes, and starfruit, all of which come loaded with vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy diet.

Be sure to drizzle some balsamic vinegar on grilled fruit right after you take it off the heat, just to give it a little complexity in flavor. Of course grilled fruit tastes great as is, and it’s definitely better for you than a side of chips!

About the Author

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, new technology, lifestyle and health.