19 Apr

Low Fat Cooking | Summer Barbecues

Most of us are fairly familiar with the ins and outs of grilling burgers and ‘dogs, but what about the side dishes? Sure, a nice big bag of chips and a bowl of slaw have always been faithful accompaniments to your favorite burgers, but why not venture out a little further and try something different? Just about anything that can be prepared indoors can be mastered on the grill with the right implements, including vegetables, and grilling often provides a medium and inspiration for extra creativity. If that isn’t enough to tempt you to haul those veggies outside, since outdoor grills often cooks more quickly than traditional indoor methods, more of the nutrients of your favorite vegetables are sealed and more readily retained when cooking outdoors!

Following are some tried and true veggie and side dish favorites that can be prepared right outside with the main meal and will save you the hassle of running in and out of the house to check on indoor cooking endeavors. Furthermore, the flavor the grill will bestow upon your favorite veggies will probably make outdoor cooking during the summer months a contender to those pre-packaged foods that often accompany a casual barbecue. So grab your BBQ apron and get started!
Grilled Portabello Mushrooms
1 lb. of portabello mushrooms
1 tblspn. of olive oil
1 ½ tblspns. of red wine or balsamic vinegar
dash of low-sodium soy sauce
Drizzle olive oil, vinegar and soy sauce over portabellos and marinate for 30 minutes. Grill over medium hot coals for 8 – 10 minutes on each side. Serve as a side dish, or as a portabello “burger” topped with the fresh vegetables.
Grilled Potatoes
4 medium baking potatoes
1 cup of low-fat or fat-free bottled Italian dressing
Wash potatoes and cut into ¼ inch slices almost all the way through the potato, but not entirely (so that the whole potato stays in one piece). Divide potatoes and place atop foil squares or pouches. Pour dressing over the top making sure that it gets into the cracks of the potatoes evenly. Seal packets and grill over medium high coals until tender. Open packets and grill for an additional 5 minutes; serve hot.

Chili Lime Corn
4 large ears of fresh corn, husks and silk removed
2 tblspns. of chili powder
Juice of two large fresh limes
Dash of olive oil
In a small bowl, combine chili powder, lime juice and olive oil until well mixed. Place corn cobs in individual foil squares and pour marinade over corn to saturate. Seal foil firmly around each individual cob and grill for approximately 45 minutes over medium hot coals, turning once during cooking times. Remove corn packets from grill and serve hot, pouring any remaining marinade from packets onto corn.


26 Feb

Low Fat Cooking | Summer Barbecues

One of essential keys to unleashing the best flavors and textures from grilled meats and vegetables is in the marinade. Marinades not only add zest and flavor to grilled foods, but also serve as natural tenderizers for meats that have tendencies to become tough during grilling, such as flank stank or pork chops. When your goal is to flavor and tenderize, choose a marinade that contains an acidic element, such as fresh citrus juices from limes, lemons or oranges, vinegar, or wine. To marinate meats, combine all ingredients in your marinade recipe and let stand for 15 minutes to combine flavors. Place in a large airtight plastic zip-lock bag and add raw meat to the marinade.  Seal and refrigerate for a minimum of 3 hours and a maximum of overnight. By allowing meats to marinade for prolonged periods of time, the flavor of the seasonings and juices from the marinades will more deeply penetrate the meats and result in flavorful and tender creations on the grill. Marinating works well with beef, chicken, pork and shrimp, as well as fish, which can be marinated in much less time because of its tender consistency. When grilling marinated meats, brushing them with reserved marinade during cooking time will yield even more flavor as the natural juices escape through the openings of the grate. Marinating vegetables, however, requires much less time. Most vegetables should be adequately marinated within 20 to 30 minutes for optimum flavor and crispness. Over-marinating of vegetables can result in soggy, discolored veggies and can override their natural flavor and goodness, so a quick marinade or a sprinkling with a good dry rub for veggies just prior to grilling is generally your best bet. Some good choices for marinating vegetables include seasoned broth, nonfat Italian dressings and dry white wines seasoned with herbs.

A dry rub is a combination of seasonings and spices that are literally “rubbed” on raw meats before grilling and, in essence, flavors the surface only as opposed to penetrating the meat as a marinade will do. The rub can be applied as lightly or as heavily as you wish, depending on how much flavor you’d like to achieve. As the heat cooks the outside of the meat, the rub adheres to the surface resulting in intense flavor that won’t readily dissipate during the cooking process.
Below are some recipes for marinades and rubs that can successfully implemented with beef, chicken, pork or seafood.