Summertime is the prime season for grilling. An outdoor cooking area offers the option for hot food without heating up your kitchen. So fire up the cue and get ready for lighter, healthier grill options that won’t weigh you down—I’m looking at you hotdogs and hamburgers!
Here are 10 surprising and healthy foods for spring and summer grilling…
For something totally tropic on your plate, try grilling up pineapple rounds. Not only is this fruit equal parts tangy and sweet, but it’s also high in antioxidant vitamin C as well as the health benefiting proteolytic compound, bromelain, a powerful anti-inflammatory that’s also linked to fighting cancer. Grill pineapple rounds until brown on the edges and use them to garnish meats (especially fish) and salads.
I turn to frozen grapes when I’m craving something sweet, but low calorie to snack on. But I wasn’t aware that grapes were also tasty when grilled. And while all grapes are high in antioxidants, red grapes specifically contain a phytochemical called resveratrol, which protects the body from multiple chronic diseases (i.e., cardiovascular disease). I throw a bunch on my grill and use them atop summer salads.
From lowering bad cholesterol to fighting oxidative stress (thanks to loads of dietary fiber), summer fresh zucchini is brilliant when cut into rounds and grilled. I like to marinate mine in a bit of olive oil and garlic before tossing it on the grill.
Another summer fruit that’s loaded with dietary fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants to help ward off chronic conditions (i.e., inflammation), peaches are grand merely cut in half, pitted, and grilled for a few minutes on each side. What you end up with is a juicy, naturally sweetmeat, salad, or frozen dessert topping.
Despite its rather prickly exterior, artichokes, this Mediterranean gem is rich in folate, antioxidants, and vitamins. Plus, when sliced, grilled, and brushed with olive oil, artichokes develop a nice, smoky flavor that also doubles as a powerful diuretic and breath freshener.
Bell peppers can do more than add color to your omelet. Flame-grilled, these red, orange, yellow, and green beauties contain phytochemicals, powerful antioxidants. Not only that, roast bell peppers on the grill for 15 to 20 minutes, peel the charred skin back, and enjoy!
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries! These tiny, tasty, and colorful fruits can be grilled in a metal pan, or even better, sealed in an aluminum packet so they steam up nicely. So delectable in salads, in fresh salsas, and topping desserts—it won’t even matter that berries are high in antioxidants to combat the type of free-radical induced oxidative stress that causes many chronic illnesses (i.e., arthritis).
Hearts of Palm
Similar to the health benefits of the artichoke (high in folate, antioxidants, and vitamins), hearts of palm are usually reserved for cold salads. However, grilled this white, edible tube from the stem of the palm tree tastes divine drizzled with olive oil or sprinkled with cheese (feta is yummy) and grilled until golden brown.
If the watermelon is a little too sloppy for you in fresh slices, throw a thick slice on the grill to reduce its water content. Daily munching of watermelon has been linked to better vasodilation (or improved blood pressure), which improves cardiovascular and eye health.
The silky, velvety texture of avocado lends perfectly to grilling. Loaded with essential fatty acids, fiber, protein, and phytochemicals like beta-sitosterol, glutathione, and lutein for immune and disease protection, avocados sliced in half, pitted, and grilled for a few minutes on each side make a delicious salmon, veggie, or grilled fajita topping.