Dinner is served…on a stick. It may sound a little primitive, but there has never been a more effective way to grill meats, vegetables and fruit, or serve cold, crowd-friendly appetizers. Whipping up a low-carb skewer is a must-try this season (or any season!).
Let’s start with some basics for the grill, and then we’ll get into some great low-carb skewer recipes:
- Wooden skewers are the most popular (and cheapest) option out there. But beware: they can easily catch on fire if not presoaked in water for about 30 minutes before grilling. If you want pre-soaked wooden skewers at the ready, Bon Appétit says soak a big pack, drain, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.
- If you thinly slice meats before grilling (and weave the slices onto the skewer), they’ll be cooked through and tender in minutes. A little space helps maximize the crispy (yummy) bits. Sirloin tips, pork chops and shrimp are awesome Lean Proteins for the grill because they can withstand the high heat and still remain tender.
- Non-starchy vegetables caramelize on the grill and taste absolutely heavenly on a low-carb skewer. But large chunks of veggies take a long time to soften, which means you’ll overcook your meat. Thinly slice your veggies and, again, weave them onto the skewer to ensure they stay put.
- Fruits also caramelize and become really juicy on the grill but lose their texture as they cook so keep slices or chunks of fruit on the larger side. Imagine grilled peaches with pork and red onions. Or, grilled pineapple with shrimp and red bell peppers.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high and brush your kebabs with avocado, canola, peanut or grapeseed oil. According to prevention.com, do NOT use extra virgin olive oil on the grill—its smoke point is just 350 degrees and can’t withstand grill temperatures (500 degrees F+). Watch your portions with the oil. If you use a whole tablespoon, that counts as one Healthy Fat serving. Grill for about five to seven minutes, turning often.
- Consider these tasty grilled combinations:
- 3-oz. lean beef, whole button mushrooms, cubed red onion and broccoli florets
- 3-oz. skinless chicken breast, cubed mango, cubed or sliced yellow squash and sliced green peppers
- Cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, cubed or sliced eggplant and olives
- 3 oz. shrimp, two lemon slices (free), cubed or sliced zucchini and asparagus
But what if you don’t have a—or want to—grill? Skewers can be served cold and are easy for picnics and great appetizers. When you use “cheese” as the meat of the low-carb skewer, you’re getting a Healthy Fat serving.
- Make a caprese skewer with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls (1 oz.) and artichoke hearts; whole blackberries, chunks of cucumbers and mozzarella balls (1 oz.); or cantaloupe balls, sliced pastrami (3 oz.) and mozzarella (1 oz.). Basil leaves should be large and used sparingly. Add a light drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette (1 Tbsp.).
- Try a chicken salad skewer with whole grapes, chunks of cucumber and cubes of precooked chicken (3 oz.) “glued” together with a little olive-oil-based mayo.
- Make a potato salad skewer with cubes of parboiled sweet potatoes and red onion, raw celery slices and apple wedges. A mustard-based dipping sauce with cinnamon ties it all together.
- Do a wedge salad with a slice of bacon, cherry tomatoes, cubed red onion and blue cheese-stuffed chunks of romaine lettuce. (Don’t use more than 1 oz. of blue cheese.)