Healthy Outdoor Cooking

nutrition Apr 26, 2023

I don’t know about you, but I love summer!!  . .  the sunshine, the lazy days, and the cookn’ outdoors!! 

If it’s hot, the last thing you want to do is to heat up your kitchen by cooking a hot meal over the stove. 

I promise there are plenty of delicious, healthy ways to get your summer grill on!! 

Charcoal, gas or electric: which is best?

Some grill masters swear by charcoal –  the flavor, the ritual, oh my – while many prefer the ease of a gas grill: less waiting time for the grill to preheat and cook.

If you don’t have outdoor space, electric grills are another great option! They come in a range of sizes, from individual sized to family-sized.

What’s my preference? I love... a good old fashioned charcoal BBQ!! 

The good news is that no matter which type of grill you prefer, grilling offers a healthy and fast cooking option. And did I mention fewer dishes to wash? What’s not to love?

Let’s talk about some great healthy grilled dinner ideas that you can enjoy this summer. 

There are plenty of households in which each member has their very own preferences. While that can sometimes be a challenge to accommodate with traditional dinners inside, they’re a lot simpler to accommodate on the grill. 

Both grilling methods – Kabobs or foil packets – even help with picky eaters - everyone gets to assemble their own meals. 


One of my favorite methods for doing a grilled dinner is to have each person assemble their own foil packet dinner. And bonus: did you know that you can meal prep these in advance...and even freeze them? 

For foil packets, I recommend using two pieces of heavy-duty foil to lower the risk of tearing or having a leak as you’re turning the foil packets over. Use two long pieces of foil, one on top of the other, forming a plus sign. Line with parchment paper to prevent sticking. 

Add your ingredients, drizzle on your favorite sauce and seal tightly. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until meat is cooked through. The exact timing depends on how large your chunks of meat and veggies are. 


Another personalized option is to make kabobs. Each person assembles their perfect assortment of meats, veggies and even fruits (grilled pineapple is delicious). 

Note: if you’re using wooden skewers, it is best if you can soak them in hot water for 30 minutes before grilling. This helps to prevent the skewer from burning on the grill. 

My personal favorite kabob mixture is shrimp, bell peppers, pineapple and teriyaki sauce  - delish!

Once your kabobs are assembled, grill until meat is cooked through and your fruits and veggies are tender. 

Power up with a good marinade

A flavorful marinade can really take grilled meats and veggies from good to great! They add delicious flavors, can tenderize the meats and even add a touch of caramelization flavor if there is any sweetener in the mix. 

As a nutrition boost, marinades have an additional benefit: they can reduce the formation of carcinogenic compounds, which are a natural product of grilling. The most powerful marinades have acid (think: chicken with lemon juice), alcohol (think: bourbon marinated flank steak) or herbs (think: rosemary crusted lamb). 

Another way to reduce these compounds? Slice your meat into smaller pieces or thinner slices so that they cook more quickly. Less cooking time means that there is less opportunity for charring, a sure sign that the compounds have formed. And of course, no one is upset that dinner is ready more quickly!

Grill times

Wondering how long to cook your items for? You’re not alone! While there are some general guidelines to get started with, the best way to know if your food is ready is to check the temperature. Not only does the food science magic of caramelization happen at specific temperatures, it also ensures that you’re keeping yourself safe from pathogens. 

Here are the recommended food safety internal cooking temperatures:

Chicken: 165°Fahrenheit

Steaks and pork chops: 145°Fahrenheit

Ground beef or pork: 160°  Fahrenheit

Turkey or chicken burgers: 165° Fahrenheit

Fish: 145° Fahrenheit

What is the easiest way to have a delicious side to go with your grilled chicken or other protein? Make it on the grill, too!

  • Grilled asparagus or peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Grilled corn on the cob


Grilled desserts to finish strong

Don’t turn that grill off yet: we can use that hot grill to make a tasty dessert. 

Fruit is delicious on the grill and makes for a satisfying end to your summer grill out. Nothing quite says summer desserts to me like grilled fruit. 

Try slicing peaches in half, sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and brown sugar and then grill for just a few minutes.   Top that grilled peach with a yummy scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream and hello heaven!! 

Grilling can be fast, healthy and inexpensive and with the right prep, faster than take out. You can enjoy a delicious dinner (and dessert) with minimal clean-up. What’s your favorite grilled menu? 

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