A New Twist on Summer Grilling

Anne Kolker MS, Registered Dietitian

You'll be surprised what your kids will eat on a stick. Have the butcher help you out for easy meal prep. Poultry can be cubed for easy threading. If you aren't that creative w/ the entrée and just want to stick to low-fat turkey burgers, go for it but change up the menu by grilling different veggies and fruit. Get the kids involved; they'll love to place the food on the stick.

August is already here and my kids share in my thought: "Summer is going by too fast." Before you start thinking of school and all the changes that it brings, hold on to the summer feeling: Race the kids in the pool, play croquet, or plan a family hike. Most importantly, take advantage of summer-time fruits and veggies and prep the BBQ.

Many fruits and veggies peak during summer. This means cost savings for the consumer but also great taste. Summer squash taste great sautéed or served raw in a salad. You probably have seen blueberries and raspberries at the store or farmer's market. Stone fruit, such as cherries, apricots and peaches, are perfect this time of year. Did you know that a nectarine is basically a bare naked peach? The smooth skin is actually due to a recessive gene.

Usually when we think of grilling, we think of BBQ'd ribs and chicken. Try something new this August – focus on fruits and vegetables. Vegetables actually taste a little sweeter when grilled because the sugar is more concentrated. Adding a little bit of salt to them also intensifies the flavor (draws water out, if you recall your high school chemistry). Just brush them with a little vegetable oil prior to grilling and add salt or other seasoning. Asparagus will grill quite quickly while thicker vegetables need to be grilled longer (35+ minutes). Try slicing up potatoes in thin, long pieces for a healthier way to serve chips. Corn on the cob is an easy one, just remove the husks and rotate during grilling (about 10 minutes).

Fruits also benefit from being brushed with vegetable oil prior to grilling so they don't stick. Ideally, fruit should be cut uniformly so they cook at the same rate and placed away from the heat. Be careful with soft fruits as they will heat up fast. For added flavor, brush them with margarine, sugar, and cinnamon. Try this with pineapple: Remove the skin and slice width-wise making sure each piece is about the same thickness. Get your son or daughter involved and have them use a small circular cookie cutter to remove the core and create uniform rings. Your family will enjoy a nice caramelized healthy treat.

Get the kids involved. They can choose the types of fruits and vegetables they want to grill. Plus kids love eating anything on a stick. Soak the sticks in water for 30 minutes and place half-sliced nectarines or tomatoes and mushrooms for fun kabobs. Have a tasty fruit and veggie filled August!

This family wellness article is provided by Nourish Interactive, visit www.nourishinteractive.com for nutrition articles, family wellness tips, free children's healthy games, and tools. Available in English and Spanish.

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