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Tomatoes on the Grill

Halve tomatoes, brush the cut side with olive oil, and grill them -- cut side down -- until they've softened and charred. The heat intensifies the tomato flavor, says dietitian Hill, and also boosts its antioxidant power by converting lycopene, a micronutrient, into a form more easily used in the body

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Better Barbecue Side Dishes

Traditional pasta and potato salads can be loaded with calories and carbs. These tasty substitutions won't leave you feeling deprived:

Instead of a baked potato with toppings, eat grilled sweet potatoes.
Instead of potato salad, eat coleslaw with light dressing.
Instead of iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing, eat sliced tomatoes and avocado drizzled with olive oil and vinegar.
Instead of pasta salad, eat a whole grain medley salad with beans or quinoa.

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Precook for Quicker Grilling

Partially cooking meat in the oven, microwave, or on the stove can reduce grilling time and HCAs. Microwaving meat for 2 minutes before grilling releases some of its juices. Some research suggests that if you throw away those juices after microwaving, you may reduce 90% of HCAs. A hot tip: Always grill foods on a preheated grill immediately after precooking to prevent harmful bacteria from forming.

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Slow and Smoky Secrets

Where there's rich, aromatic smoke, there's tasty, succulent meat. Smoking -- which is slow-cooking with indirect heat -- is often preferred for large cuts like briskets and pork loin, and whole turkeys or chickens.

Use a covered grill if you don't have a smoker. Put a pan of water under the grate between two piles of coals. Center the food over the pan. For the best smoke flavor, use beech, oak, hickory, apple, or maple wood

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The Rub on Dry Rubs

Dry rubs are a mouth-watering alternative to heavy sauces. They pack lots of flavor for few calories. You can pat them on food just before grilling. Buy a low-sodium rub with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving. Or make your own custom rub. Try these for salmon or steak: paprika, pepper, and chili powder; or chili peppers, garlic, and cilantro. For chicken or white fish: oregano, thyme, pepper, coriander, and garlic or onion

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Tasty Ways to Grill Delicate Foods

You can grill small foods like eggplant slices, mushrooms, or flaky fish in a hinged grilling basket or foil packet, which holds the food firmly and is easy to turn over. Or choose a plank: Grilling small or delicate morsels on a wooden plank keeps them from falling apart (or through the grates). And it also infuses a light, smoky woodiness to foods, from prawns to figs. Follow instructions that come with your plank for pre-soaking and heating.

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