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Nutrition Articles  ›  Seasonal & Holiday Tips

Beyond Burgers: Fun Foods You Can Grill

Turn Up the Heat for a Nutritious, Balanced Meal

-- By Sarah Haan, Registered Dietitian
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Asparagus hot off the grill is especially good. Lightly coat the washed, trimmed spears with olive or canola oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper (optional). You can lay the spears directly on the grill (crosswise) for about 5 minutes or until they reach your preferred tenderness. If you're nervous about the spears falling into the flames below, you can make foil pockets for your asparagus (see below) or buy an asparagus basket.

Tomatoes and peppers take on a great smoky flavor when grilled. Leave them whole and place them over the hottest part of the grill. When the skin is black and blistered, the vegetables are ready. Allow them to cool, then remove the charred skin and the stem and seeds (only for peppers). Do not rinse the vegetables after grilling or you will lose flavor. Chop them and combine with other vegetables for a salsa with a smoky kick, throw them on salads or place slices of roasted peppers on sandwiches. Roasted tomatoes are especially tasty when smashed on a good piece of bread. Any sweet or hot pepper can be roasted, and Roma or plum tomatoes are sturdy enough to endure grilling.

Foil pockets are a great way to grill a variety of veggies that might be too small to place directly on the grill surface. Veggies that work well in a pocket include white potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onion slices, zucchini, squash, green beans, asparagus, artichokes, garlic cloves, mushrooms, and all types of peppers—sweet or hot. When preparing your veggies for grilling, cut or slice into pieces of uniform size and thickness so they cook evenly. Root veggies (like potatoes and carrots) may need a splash of water in the pocket to help create some steam.

To make a foil pocket, use heavy-duty aluminum foil. Lay out a large single sheet, spray one side with cooking spray, and fold foil in half. Crimp or fold over two of the open sides, leaving one side open to insert your vegetables. Once you tuck the veggies inside, add seasonings, then crimp the opening so the pocket is completely closed. (Be sure to fold this side loosely to make checking in on your masterpiece a cinch.) Now you’re now ready to hit the grill! Grill the pocket on the top rack of your grill where temperatures are a bit lower. Flip the pocket once halfway through cooking using oven mitts—not tongs or a fork, which might pierce the pocket. Cooking time will vary depending on size, type and amount of veggies you grill, but most veggies will cook in a foil pocket within 25-30 minutes.

With so many dishes to choose, you’ll be itching to fire up your grill nightly to show off your newfound grill skills to your family, friends and neighbors. Don't worry—we won't tell them it's good for them if you don't!



Need more great grilling ideas? Check out our e-book, ''SparkPeople's Ultimate Grilling Guide: 75 Hearty, Healthy Recipes You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into.'' Get it on Amazon.com and get grilling!
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About The Author

Sarah Haan Sarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.

Member Comments

  • My dad has a very restricted diet, due to advanced kidney disease. (No chocolate, no pastries, no dairy, no nuts, no cakes.) So for his birthday one year, we split a banana in half and grilled it, then topped it with a non-dairy whipped topping. It was a special sweet treat to celebrate, but was withing his dietary guidelines. - 5/25/2014 2:14:15 PM
  • Doesn't mention beets. Grilled beets are delicious! cut off the top and leave a little stem, wrap in foil and grill until tender, then peel. Great in salad too!
    - 5/25/2014 6:32:52 AM
  • Yum! I'm hungry now! - 8/22/2013 10:37:25 AM
  • Excellent article! I cook potatoes in pockets on the grill often, but never thought to add a bit of water. I can imagine that will help a lot!

    I'm looking forward to trying fruit on the grill now! : ) - 7/31/2013 3:50:17 PM
  • BBARKER9
    I just received a big Green Egg and am looking for cooking times on it.
    - 7/18/2013 1:14:37 PM
  • DEDYDEWANTHO
    I prefer to grill food, its more simple and save for the ingridients - 7/6/2013 11:35:05 AM
  • PEACENCARROTS
    This makes me want to fire up my grill right now! Thanks. - 7/3/2013 11:03:26 AM
  • CORALRELKOV
    My favorite is green,yellow,oran
    ge and red sweet peppers with some olive oil but the ones you shared aregreat too - 7/2/2013 1:26:09 PM
  • I will have my hubby grilling some of our fresh veggies out the garden on Saturday. I know they going to taste really good because they are fresh. - 7/2/2013 9:03:10 AM
  • I love grilling. yummy stuff definitely going to have grill some veggies after reading this :) - 6/28/2013 10:15:45 PM
  • Everytime I BBQ I REMEMBER doing so with my parents. Good times ! - 6/28/2013 2:43:58 PM
  • I have a charcoal grill that I LOVE! I use it several times a week!! I like to grill peppers, onions, corn, asparagus, and zuccini along with my chicken, chops, or steak. Sweetpotato and pineapple are also great on a grill. - 6/20/2013 1:09:39 AM
  • We grilled three times this week. First night was flatiron steak with portobello caps, sliced peppers, squash and zucchini with herbs de provence, all splashed with olive oil and balsamic. Next, bison medallions with simple salt and pepper, more portobello and grilled corn. Finally (my favorite): salmon in balsamic maple marinade with more summer veggies and grilled corn. So satisfying and healthy! So glad I let the husband talk me into the gas grill...well worth the cost. - 6/15/2013 11:23:57 AM
  • For my fellow vegans out there who are looking for a tasty alternative I highly recommend the Seitan BBQ Riblets recipe that I found in the SparkPeople Recipes. I baked some up yesterday and today I'm going to throw some more BBQ sauce on them and reheat them on the grill along with some sweet corn! - 9/2/2012 1:22:04 PM
  • KRULAK
    Grilling a pizza is great...on charcoal. You get so much extra flavor. If you use a gas grill you might as well use the oven. Since it does not make a difference in flavor but does keep the heat out of the kitchen. When I cook pizza on the grill I will turn the pizza every 5-7 minutes due to hot spots in charcoal to avoid burning. - 8/29/2012 4:52:34 PM