Nutrition Articles

The Thrill of the Grill

A Healthy Way to Celebrate Summer


Warm days are filled with family picnics, neighborhood cookouts, community parades—and lots of summer food favorites.

Grilling can enhance the flavor of meats, poultry, fish and even garden-fresh fruits and vegetables. To liven up your grilling experience, add a fast and easy liquid marinade, spicy rub, or tangy glaze.

Marinades consist of liquid ingredients (a mix of fruit or vegetable juices, wine, water, or oil) combined with seasonings and herbs. When meat soaks in the liquid, it becomes saturated with flavor. Beef should marinate for 6 hours or overnight; pork, fish, and chicken, which are more tender, only need to steep for 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Get the most out of your marinade: Add acidic ingredients to the mixture to help tenderize the meat, and always marinate in the refrigerator. It’s safe (and tasty) to brush on marinade during the grilling process, but never reuse the marinade or use it as a dipping sauce after cooking (because of bacterial contamination). 

Island Marinade Recipe

In a self-sealing bag, combine together 1/2 cup orange juice, 4 tablespoons lime juice, 3 cloves crushed garlic, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, and 1 tablespoon honey. Add pork chops or chicken breasts. Seal and refrigerate overnight.

A Dry Rub is a mix of spices that is rubbed onto meat just before grilling.

Try this Southwestern Rub on chicken or pork.

Mix together 5 teaspoons chili powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons oregano, 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic. Rub onto 2 pounds of meat and grill.


Glazes are made from jams and jellies that are thinned with a liquid such as orange or pineapple juice. Since glazes are high in sugar they can easily char and burn. Therefore brush the glaze onto the meat during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Recipe for Ginger-Apricot Glaze

Stir together 1 cup apricot jam, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1/8 teaspoon dry ginger. Brush onto meat during last 5 minutes of grilling.



Select firm, ripe veggies for grilling. Cut the vegetables into large pieces and place them on skewers. Baste lightly with a vegetable oil spray and season with herbs, soy sauce, wine, or flavored vinegars. Grill until hot, tender and slightly golden brown. Try bell peppers, cabbage, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, summer squash, tomatoes, potatoes, or sweet potatoes.

You can also grill firm, ripe fruit on skewers! Lightly spray large pieces with vegetable oil. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, or ginger. Grill until slightly golden brown. Great choices include apples, apricots, figs, peaches and pears.

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 and get grilling!

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
Page 1 of 1  
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!

Member Comments

  • Pineapple is also very good grilled. The grilling causes it to shrink a little and that concentrates the flavor.

    One of my favorites is grilled mushrooms on a skewer. After skewering them I spray or brush them with olive oil a few times (because it soaks in) and then sprinkle them with a dry rub (usually the same one I used on the meat I'm grilling). The grilling makes them shrink a little and they are really moist and good.
  • My husband is the griller in the family...I discover recipes and do the prep .. we've decided to try a new grilling recipe each month...we tried 1 new one each year in the past...Beer can chicken-delicious
    ly moist.....grilled pizza yum (put the cheese over the sauce not over the toppings!) jalapeno stuffed with cream cheese (wear protective gloves when you're seeding the peppers).
  • Thanks for sharing.
  • I don't grill. My hubby does it. He the grill guy in my house. So he prepare all the food.
  • KANA6O
    I do a mix of grilled veggies (onions, mushrooms, zucchini, grape\cherry tomatoes, asparagus, sliced baby carrots, red\green peppers....) ut it all up tossed with a little olive oil so they don't stick.
    I cook them on a grill topper so they don't fall through.
    Once done, they go into a large bowl and I drizzle a store brand salad dressing mix, made with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, over top and toss. serve and eat....
  • I haven't tried to grill fruits, but it sounds delicious. I use a grill pan for veggies if I'm not making kabobs. Will definitely try some of the tips.
  • I have fallen in love with grilled fruits! It is such a healthy way to get my sweet fix.
    I'm making pork with the island marinade for dinner tonight.
  • makes me hungry:)
  • I am a more dry rub kind of girl
    the marinades are intriguing!!!
  • The photo with this article makes my mouth water; although in reality my kabobs would have much, much less meat; not because I would not love to have more but it simply costs too much these days! I hope to have this at least once this summer...
  • I love marinated baked/grilled foods. This is a good time to incorporate into my diet.
  • I love grilling and I love cabbage - naturally reading that both could be combined is super- interesting for me. Does anyone know how it works? Without burning the leaves? Please send me a message if you know how to do it...
  • I love, love, love grilling. I just bought "The vegetarain grill" and recommend it for veggies and non-vegetarians alike. :)
  • My favorite thing to grill is asparagus, with a little fresh lemon juice. Yum.

About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

x Lose 10 Pounds by July 3! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.