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Tips For Healthy Grilling

By Ms. Qula Madkin, MSU Extension Service

Grilling is a great way to cool off your kitchen and lean out your diet.

Meat typically comes to mind when we think about backyard barbecues, but you can cook much more than that on the grill. Try adding fruits and vegetables this summer to go along with your protein choices.

Here are a few of my favorite tips to get you started:

Focus on in-season produce. When produce is in season, it’s tastier and less expensive. Check your local grocery store, local farm, or Farmers Market. Grill your favorite fruits and vegetables until they are tender. Take the flavor up a notch by marinating the produce or serving it with a tasty vinaigrette. Try one of our salt-free seasoning blends and combine with oil, vinegar, or lemon juice, to make a marinade, sauce, or vinaigrette.

Go lean with protein. Choose proteins lower in saturated fat, like seafood, ground turkey, skinless chicken, and lean cuts of beef and pork. Don’t forget vegetarian options like veggie burgers and tofu, which are great on the grill. Always use a food thermometer to ensure your meat reaches the correct internal temperature. Keep this chart handy for quick reference:

Looking for a meal in minutes? Try one of our fold-and-go packet meals on the grill. It’s simple. Just choose your ingredients, put them in a sheet of foil folded into a packet, and cook. It’s easy cleanup, too!

Try this Bacon Ranch Potatoes recipe for your next grilled meal.

Bacon Ranch Potatoes

- 4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

- 7 to 9 small red potatoes, quartered

- 1/2 onion, sliced

- 1 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning

- 1/2 teaspoon pepper

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped or dried

- 1 cup cheese

- Drizzle of olive oil

Tip: Add 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts (cubed), tofu, or your favorite beans to add protein.

For more foil packet meal ideas and detailed instructions for making them, check out our Extension Publication 3567, “Fold and Go Meals.”

Bottom line: Grilling is an excellent option for any meal. So, fire up your grill for healthy meals year-round.

For more helpful tips like these and healthy recipe options, visit and join our MSU Nutrition and Wellness Facebook group.

For even more healthy grilling ideas, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics web site.

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