7 Tips for Healthy Low-Carb GrillingArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
About two-thirds (64 percent) of adults in the United States own a grill or smoker, according to an April 2020 survey by the Patio & Barbecue Association. Plus, 68 percent of Americans with a grill plan to have a cookout on the Fourth of July. We hope you’re included in that figure. Grilling enhances the flavors in meats, fish, veggies and fruits. Cooking outside in the backyard can also help to keep your house cool during the hot summer months. Plus, when done correctly, grilling can be a very healthy, low-carb way to prepare your food.
Here are seven simple tips for healthy low-carb grilling:
1. Watch the Oil
Food can stick on the grill. If you try to unstick it, it can flake apart and fall into the grill grates. Oil prevents this annoyance. However, one tablespoon of oil counts as one Healthy Fat serving on the South Beach Diet. Don’t drizzle avocado or olive oil on top of your veggies without measuring. Better yet, we prefer you grease the grates directly by coating a paper towel and using tongs to apply the oil. You could also try out a cooking spray designed specifically for grilling.
Always clean your grill before adding oil of any kind and use a wire brush to clean it thoroughly, recommends Harvard Health Publishing. Then, wipe down your grill with those oiled towels. That helps with sticking and also ensures those sharp bristles don’t get in your food.
Before you use just any oil, make sure to check out this list of nine healthy oils for weight loss! We provided the smoke point of each option so that you can pick one that is perfect for high heat cooking on the grill.
2. Portion Your Proteins
Chicken, salmon, shrimp, flank steak. All of these Proteins—plus dozens more on our South Beach Diet Grocery Guide—are recommended in three-ounce portions. Without your kitchen scale, it can be tough to gauge a proper serving. Here’s a great way to guesstimate:
- Beef, pork or poultry are all roughly the size of a deck of cards.
- Fish should be about the size of a checkbook.
- A serving of ground meat (like a burger) should be slightly smaller than your fist.
Kebabs and skewers are a great way to keep your portions in check. Learn how to build a low carb skewer with our simple guide! >
3. Skip the BBQ Sauce
Unless you’re using a sugar-free option, skip slathering your food with store-bought barbecue sauce. A tablespoon serving of one popular brand delivers almost 20 grams of sugar and carbs! There are plenty of other ways to add low-carb flavor to your grilled favorites.
Try using a spice rub before grilling meats. Cayenne, smoked paprika, garlic powder, black pepper and salt is an easy go-to blend. Try the coriander rub we created in our Grilled Garlic Pork Chops recipe. Our Mustard Crusted Pork rub can be used on anything—veggies and meats.
You can also marinate your meat to impart more flavor and tenderness. Try our recipe for Chicken Tikka Skewers and then use the marinade again with lamb or fish. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Marinating food for a while before cooking limits the formation of potential carcinogens while grilling.”
4. Veggie, Veggie Good
Onions, peppers, tomatoes, artichokes and more. The larger the veggie, the easier to grill. Some of our faves are whole or portabella mushrooms because they’re 92% water. The dry heat that a grill imparts evaporates the liquid, leaving a concentrated vegetable loaded with flavor and heart-healthy dietary fiber.
We also love grilled fresh greens (collards, romaine, broccolini, etc.). Grill the whole head for a few seconds and you’ll impart smokiness and a light char. With greens like kale and collards, grilling can remove some natural bitterness, too. When we say grill for seconds, we mean seconds: 30 seconds to a minute is all it takes. The core should be cool and the outer leaves will still have texture.
Summer squashes like zucchini and eggplant are rich in fiber and are terrific grilled. Put them over medium heat for about seven minutes. The key is to thinly slice and keep them put. Don’t be tempted to turn them again and again. You want those deep grill marks. Plus, the more you move squash, the more it will tear and fall apart.
Other vegetables that taste great on the grill include avocado, asparagus and cauliflower steaks. Kebabs and skewers are also a great way to easily grill up your favorite veggies. Of course, you can also feature raw veggies in your backyard barbecue spread in the form of fresh salads, coleslaw and more. Explore The Palm for delicious recipes like our Cucumber Feta Salad and Two-Step Super Salad.
5. You Gotta Keep ‘Em Separated
So, are you making a little of both? Meat and veggies? Make sure you have different plates and grilling utensils for the raw meat and veggies. And, don’t put your finished food back on the plate that held raw meat, says Harvard Health Publishing.
A brown, charred color on the outside doesn’t mean meat is cooked on the inside. Always use a food thermometer to ensure it’s cooked to the proper temperature. FoodSafety.gov provides the following advice:
- Ground meat and meat mixtures made from beef, pork, veal or lamb should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Steaks, roasts and chops from fresh beef, veal or lamb, as well as fresh pork and ham, should be cooked to a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit and should rest for three minutes.
- Chicken, turkey and other poultry (including ground meat made from poultry) must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Precooked ham that is being reheated should reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. Try Something Different
Have you tried our Garlic and Cheese Flatbread yet? It’s one of our most versatile menu items that makes the perfect pizza crust. And believe it or not, the grill is a great place for a pizza! The even heating a grill provides is the secret to a pizza’s success. Be careful not to add too much sauce or you’ll get a soggy crust. Same deal with cheese. Too much cheese makes the pizza soupy—not to mention adds extra calories and fat. Stick with medium-high heat, keep the lid closed and check your pie after five to six minutes. Don’t cook pizza on the grill for longer than 10 minutes.
You can also get creative with the barbecue classic, the burger! Think this hearty meal is off limits because of bun? Think again! Whether you enjoy beef, turkey, chicken, seafood or veggie burgers, you can still whip up your favorite burger recipes on the Fourth of July. Transform these picnic favorites into low-carb fare by swapping out the bun with a lettuce wrap or low carb tortilla! You can also just serve up your burger over a salad or grilled veggies. Craving bread? Try our recipe for Almond Flour Bread! > If you have any net carbs leftover for the day, you can indulge in a whole grain or whole wheat bun. Check out some of our favorite burger recipes below:
- Avocado Shrimp Burger >
- Southern Style Burger Bites >
- Inside-Out Cheeseburgers >
- South Beach Diet Classic Burger >
7. Drink This Instead
Because no barbecue is complete without a cold beer or cold cocktail, enjoy one! Note the emphasis on one. The South Beach Diet recommends sticking to two servings of alcohol per week, if possible. Pay close attention to portion sizes:
- 12 ounces of beer
- 1.5 ounces of liquor
- 4 ounces of wine
Opt for lighter beers or hard seltzer because they’re lower in calories and carbohydrates. You can have red or white wine as long as the variety is on the dry side. Dry wines tend to be lower in sugar and carbs. Avoid sugary wine coolers and mixers or opt for sugar-free versions if they are available. You could even try whipping up a low-carb slushie with a little hard seltzer, white rum or vodka. Check out our slushie guide here! >