Smokin J’s Barbeque’s Top 5 Healthy Grilling Techniques

Let’s face it, we are all trying to eat more healthy and watch our weight, but we also love our grills, smokers and outdoor cooking vessels.

When it comes to grilling, you might think of savory, fatty foods, slathered in a coat of sugary barbecue sauce; however, grilling – a high-heat method of cooking directly over the flames or hot coals, can be advantageous when trying to lose weight.

Small or thin sliced pieces of food are best when it comes to grilling.  However, there are two types of grilling – direct and indirect.


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DIRECT GRILLING

Usually, direct grilling involves thin cuts of meat like, steak, pork chops, kebabs and vegetables.  The food is cooked directly over the flame and the high heat sears the food’s surface, which seals in the juices.  This is typically a quick cooking method, two to twenty minutes.  Make sure to keep the grill open, especially with flammable foods, like bread.  If you have a thicker cut of steak, you can speed up the process by closing the grill.

INDIRECT GRILLING

Indirect grilling

Indirect grilling set up with two hot zones.

Indirect grilling brings together barbecuing and grilling.  In barbecue, the food is cooked adjacent to, but not directly over the fire; however, the cooking takes place in the same chamber as the fire.  When a grill is used for indirect grilling, the coals are place on the side of the “firebox,” and the food goes in between.

Ideal foods for this method are whole chickens, ducks, turkeys, rib roasts, ribs and whole vegetables and fruit, such as stuffed onions, cabbages and apples.

However, we want to focus on foods to help you keep your waistline smaller.  The following grilling techniques encourage smaller portions and healthy food choices.


USING THE GRILL TO HELP YOUR WAISTLINE

1.  Grill shrimp and shellfish more often.   Shrimp, clams or mussels are great and easy to prepare on the grill.

Lobsters split for grillingBecause different fires, put out different heat – cooking times can vary.  If grilling lobster, split them.  This may require more cooking surface.  It is best to turn the lobsters so that the claws are sitting over the hottest part of the fire. This helps them cook more rapidly.  Make sure the claws are lying flat.  Adjust placement if you notice some turning bright red faster than others.

2.  If you chose to grill meat, consider thin cuts or kebabs, which can cook faster and may help you control your portions.

Kebabs grill time depends on what is on the skewer.  Many people will grill vegetables, alternating with meat on the same kebab – we DO NOT.  We recommend each skewer hold a type of food; for example, onions on one skewer; beef on another; etc.  Peppers will not take near as long as potatoes, therefore, you can adjust the cooking times more easily.

Kebabs off the grill

A beef skewer; a squash skewer; a tomato skewer; a pepper skewer; an onion skewer.

 

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Vegetables are great on the grill for weight loss3.  Shop your local farmer’s market to find nature’s bounty of food that can be brushed with a bit of olive oil and tossed on the grill.  Even dessert, grilled peaches or apricots can be brushed with a little bit of honey, along with a teaspoon of ricotta or yogurt for a summer treat.

Make sure to be cautious when using oil at the grill, it can cause flare ups.  Also, vegetables like to stick. Make sure you have a clean grill surface. Consider using a grilling basket with long handles, making it easier to turn vegetables while cooking. 


WATCH HOW TO CLEAN YOUR GRILL


4.  Try meatless main dishes like grilled eggplant or meaty mushrooms; when grilled they have a “meaty” or umami flavor.

Umami Flavor

5.  Use cedar planks to spice up your meal.

Make sure to PRE-SOAK any wood planks you decide to use, for at least an hour.   For most intense flavor, place the soaked plank immediately on the grill grate, over direct heat, for 5 – 10 minutes.  Turn over the plank and place your food on the charred side of the plank.  

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