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Grill Talk: Summer Tips for Delicious, Healthy Outdoor Cooking

Wish you knew more about the fine art of grilling outdoors? Our healthy eating expert, Domenica Catelli, shares tips and a tangy lemon chicken recipe.
WebMD Magazine - Feature

There is nothing that says "summer" to me like firing up the barbecue and grilling food. If you live any place where the thermometer rises above 80 degrees, cooking over a grill -- wood, gas, or charcoal -- is a godsend. With a few easy tips, anybody can grill a delicious, healthy meal.

Use a gas grill if you're grilling-phobic. It's as easy to light as a gas stove. Most new grills have their own starter, so you just have to turn a knob. Charcoal can be more temperamental and definitely messier.

Fire starters are your friend. No, not the liquid lighter fluid our dads used to douse the charcoal briquettes. Instead, use the new nontoxic fire starter squares now available online and at hardware stores. They're easier, quicker, and less scary to work with than a giant bottle of lighter fluid.

Cook over wood -- mesquite, oak, hardwood, or a mix. The flavor is so distinct and makes the simplest of meals special. Also, something about the smell of wood draws in the crowd. Everyone gets excited about the meal before it even hits the table.

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 the juices in and cut down overall cooking time. But 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 humans may face the same risk, so lower the heat, cover your grill with foil pierced with a knife or fork to reduce the amount of smoke you inhale as you're cooking, and trim any charred bits before eating.)

Healthy Recipe

Lemony Yogurt Grilled Chicken

Makes 4 servings



3 cups plain, low-fat  organic yogurt

2 lemons, juiced

2 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp kosher salt

4 4-oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts (can substitute 1 lb 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, then reduce 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.

Per serving: 239 calories, 36 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 76 mg cholesterol, 13 g sugar, 492 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 16%.

Reviewed on May 05, 2011

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