Monday Medical: Healthy grilling tips

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Recipe

Grilled Eggplant with nut/seed sauce

2 eggplants, sliced thin lengthwise

2 Tbsp peanut butter, almond butter or sesame tahini

1 garlic clove

1 whole lemon, juiced

3 Tbsp olive oil and more for brushing

1 tsp fresh oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot pepper flakes, optional

Puree nut or seed butter, garlic, lemon juice and oregano in a blender. Blend in 3 tablespoons each olive oil and water; add salt and pepper. Brush eggplant slices with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill 3 minutes per side. Top with the peanut dressing, more oregano and red pepper flakes.

Summer allows us to expand our dining rooms into the great outdoors. On a deck, in the backyard or around a campfire, we can create healthy meals when we grill.

Often, we think about grilling and barbecuing as meals filled with calorie-laden potato salads, mayonnaise-heavy slaws and fatty meats. That does not have to be the case. Grilling can be one of the healthiest ways to create a delicious summer meal.

A healthy, rounded meal should consist of three main components: a protein, carbohydrate and fat.

Be conscious that your proteins are from a variety of sources including plant varieties. Think outside the box when you grill: use fish and lean meats such as elk and bison. Serve with side dishes of beans and lentils.

Carbohydrates should make up a portion of your meal, but not too much, and should come in the form of healthy fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

Many vegetables such as asparagus, corn, eggplant and squash are delicious when grilled. A vegetable grill basket helps to keep pieces from falling through the grates. Toss those grilled vegetables with whole grains such as brown rice, faro and quinoa or lentils to create a delicious side dish.

Another healthy choice is grilled Portobello mushrooms for a satisfying and “meaty” alternative to a traditional burger.

Incorporate healthy fats into your meals by encrusting fish or chicken with crushed nuts and seeds such as pistachios and sesame seeds. Use olive, toasted sesame and peanut oils for marinades and dressings. These same oils can be used to create tossed side dishes such as Asian slaw or lentil salad.

Avoid charring meats as this can create dangerous compounds such as polycyclic aroma hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines, both of which have been linked to a higher cancer risk. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness.

Choose leaner cuts of meat, trim excess fat, marinate meats and add sauces toward the end of grilling. Also, clean your grill after each use and keep uncooked meats separate from fresh fruits and vegetables during preparation.

When cooking fish, use a fish basket or tin foil and add healthy oils, white wine, citrus and fresh herbs to create a delicious main course that will not stick to the grill.

Can you grill dessert? Yes! Grill pineapple and plum slices and serve parfait-style with fresh summer berries, Greek yogurt, crushed nuts and even a bit of shaved dark chocolate. Grilling brings out the natural sweetness in the fruit.

Choose from an abundance of fresh produce, get creative and make that next outdoor get-together a delicious and healthy one. From appetizers to dessert, grilling is a great way to enjoy a delicious and safe meal.

For more ideas, plan to attend the first program in our new Real Food series, “Grilling: More Than Just for Meat Eaters.” Join Dr. Charlie Petersen and registered dietitian Laura Stout on the YVMC patio at noon Wednesday. RSVPs are required, and can be made by calling 970-875-2731 or emailing yampavalleyintegratedhealth@yvmc.org.

Cara Marrs is a registered dietitian at Yampa Valley Medical Center and a nutritionist at Align Wellness in Steamboat Springs.

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