Nothing says "summer" like barbecue, and firing up the grill can be an easy way to cook delicious, healthy food. These few tips can get you started.
- Choose gas if you're nervous about lighting up for the first time. Charcoal can be temperamental and messy, but a gas grill is as easy to light as a gas stove. Most new grills have their own starter, so you only have to turn a knob.
- Upgrade your fire starter. Ditch the liquid lighter fluid that you use to douse the charcoal briquettes. Instead, use nontoxic fire starter squares available online and at hardware stores. They're easier, quicker, and less dangerous to work with than a giant bottle of lighter fluid.
- Think less time, not more. You can get an entire meal on and off the grill in less than 20 minutes. Start with the heat on high to seal in the juices and cut down overall cooking time. Then turn it down to medium so the meat doesn't get charred. (Animal studies have linked eating meat cooked at high temperatures to cancer, and people may face the same risk, so lower the heat.)
- Cut down on smoke. Cover your grill with foil pierced with a knife or fork to cut the amount of smoke you inhale as you're cooking. Trim any charred bits from your meat before eating.
Recipe: Lemony Yogurt Grilled Chicken
You can swap in shrimp or lamb for the chicken, if you prefer.
Makes 4 servings
3 cups plain, low-fat, organic yogurt
2 lemons, juiced
2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp kosher salt
4 4-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts (can substitute 1 pound lamb or shrimp)
chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, mint, and Italian parsley (optional)
fresh lemon wedges for garnish
1. Place yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and salt in a medium glass bowl and mix. (You can also use a large, resealable plastic bag.) Reserve 1/2 cup of mixture.
2. Add chicken, shrimp, or lamb.
3. Marinate for 30 minutes to 6 hours (longer marinating time means more flavor and less cooking time).
4. Heat the grill to high; reduce it to medium before cooking meat.
5. Discard marinade, and add meat to grill.
6. Cook shrimp approximately 2 minutes per side and lamb and boneless, skinless chicken breasts 4 to 7 minutes per side depending on thickness. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh herbs, and serve with reserved yogurt sauce and fresh lemon wedges.