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10 Healthy Ideas for a Lean Barbecue Season

These grilling tips can help you have a healthier cookout.
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WebMD Expert Column

Summer is synonymous with grilling for many American families, and why not? When the weather is warm, we spend more time outdoors and try to stay out of the hot kitchen. It stays light longer, and the evenings tend to seem a little less jam-packed with activities than usual. These are all great reasons to look to the barbecue for dinner inspiration. But before you dust off that grill, we have some tips to help you enjoy the BBQ season while keeping your dinners as lean and healthy as can be.

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 1: Bold ingredients add great flavor to grilling sauces and marinades.

You can add bold flavors without adding too many calories or fat grams. Here are some of my favorite ingredients for sauces and marinades:

  • Worcestershire sauce: 2 tablespoons contain 30 calories, 0 grams fat, and 390 milligrams sodium
  • Chili sauce: 2 tablespoons contain 40 calories, 0 grams fat, and 960 milligrams sodium (depending on brand)
  • Tomato paste: 2 tablespoons contain 30 calories, 0 grams fat, and 20 milligrams sodium
  • Molasses: 2 tablespoons contain 120 calories, 0 grams fat, and 40 milligrams sodium
  • Soy sauce (less-sodium type): 2 tablespoons contain 20 calories, 0 grams fat, and 1150 milligrams sodium

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 2: Have large resealable plastic bag, will marinate!

One of the easiest ways to marinate meat, chicken, fish or vegetables is to place them inside a large, resealable plastic bag. Set the bag in a medium sized bowl, then drizzle the marinade over the food. Seal the bag, eliminating any excess air. The food should be surrounded by the marinade. Keep marinating in the refrigerator until you're ready to grill.

Healthy Barbecue Tip No. 3: A little sweetness is good, but more is not better.

Adding a small amount of a sweet ingredient (like fruit juice, brown sugar, honey or molasses) to the marinade or grilling sauce can be a good thing. It adds flavor and helps to balance other bold spices in the marinade or sauce. But too much sweetness can encourage the meat, fish, or vegetables to burn when they're grilled over high heat.

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