New York Hospital Dietician Discusses Healthy Grilling For Summer

Posted on: July 15, 2013

Tips for Healthy Grilling This Summer!

by – Kimberly Stein RD, CDN, Northern Westchester Hospital

iStock_000013155644_HiRezIs there anything better than a good-old fashioned BBQ during summer? It’s something we all love!  Keep in mind, there are just as many food safety tips for your grill as there are for your kitchen. Before you fire up the grill for your next meal, here are some tips to keep in mind. For more recipes for nutritious and delicious dishes please visit us here.

  1. 1.     Consistent Cleaning

Before you grill, be sure to scrub down the grates with hot, soapy water each time to kill any lingering bacteria. Also, wash your hands during the entire food prep process. Bacteria transfer easily and good sanitation practices are the easiest way to prevent cross-contamination. Another way to prevent the spread of bacteria is to use separate cutting boards, and cooking utensils when handling raw foods versus cooked foods. This same rule applies to not using the same marinade for cooked meats that was used when it was raw.

  1. 2.     Heat it Up!

One of the best tools you can invest in is a food thermometer. This is the most reliable way of ensuing your food has been cooked to its safe and ready-to-eat internal temperature. Foods that have not been fully cooked can become harmful. Use these following temps as your cooking guide:

  • Chicken- 165°
  • Hamburgers- 160°
  • Steak- 145°
  1. 3.     Set the clock…!

After food has been cooked and enjoyed, place any leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours. If it’s extra hot out, that time is reduced to one hour. Bacteria love warm climates and food is bound to become perishable with a long length of stay in the sun. Leftover grilled foods can be stored in the fridge for about 3 – 4 days; after that time is up, just toss out the rest. Any extras should be reheated to a temperature of 165° before serving again (this is where that food thermometer will come in handy!)

A fantastic way to brighten up your next BBQ is to fill up your plate with lots of fruits and veggies. These will provide fewer calories but be rich with nutrients. You may already be accustomed to grilling corn-on-the-cob or zucchini, but there are a plethora of other options! Have you ever tried grilled fruit? This is a super sweet treat that is a delicious surprise!

  1. Grilled veggie kabobs- skewer your favorites and baste with some olive oil
  2. Sliced sweet potato + olive oil + salt/pepper + cayenne. Place over medium heat and turn after 10 minutes. Be careful not to char the sweet potato.
  3. Some other great grilled options are asparagus, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and even cabbage!


  1. Harder fruits like apples, pears, and pineapples will hold their shape while grilling. Softer fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums, and mangoes need extra attention to avoid becoming mushy. Some fruits you can cut just right in half such as bananas.
  2. Grilling fruit is best done over medium heat. Make sure you’re using clean grill grates and to brush them first with some oil to prevent the fruit from sticking. 
  3. Grill watermelon approximately 30 seconds per side. Some of the water will evaporate from the heat leaving a new savory flavor

Check out some of the following recipes you might be tempted to try at your next BBQ!

Grilled Pineapple – Teriyaki Chicken
Courtesy of

A new sweet and savory dinner recipe for you to try! 
Serves 4


1/3 cup dry sherry
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 20 oz. can pineapple rings, plus 1/3 cup juice from the can
4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. butter 


  1. Whisk sherry, soy sauce, brown sugar and the 1/3 cup pineapple juice in a large bowl. Add the pineapple rings and chicken and gently stir to coat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium-high
  3. Remove the chicken and pineapple from the marinade and pat dry; reserve the marinade. Oil the grill rack. Grill the chicken and pineapple until the chicken is cooked through and the pineapple is marked, 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  4. Whisk the reserved marinade and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking, until reduced and thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in butter.
  5. Serve the chicken and pineapple drizzled with the sauce.


Grilled Portobellos with Mozzarella Salad
Courtesy of

 A delightful grilled veggie appetizer for your next summer BBQ!
Serves 4


2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
3 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
3 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 tsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
4 large Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
Cooking spray 


  1. In a small bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients; cover and chill until serving.
  2. Spray mushrooms with cooking spray. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.
  3. Grill mushrooms, covered, over medium heat for 6 – 8 minutes on each side or until tender
  4. Spoon ½ cup tomato mixture into each mushroom cap


Grilled Fruit Salad with Chocolate Drizzle
Courtesy of

Use all of summer’s fresh fruit in this super sweet treat! .
Serves 6 


For Sugar Free Chocolate Sauce:

1/3 cup cocoa powder
1-1/3 cup Splenda
2/3 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. Smart Balance

For Grilled Fruit:

1 large wooden skewer, soaked in warm water
6 large strawberries, hulled
2 peaches, quartered and pit removed
½ pineapple, sliced into 1”-thick rings
2 watermelon wedges, rind removed (about ¼ a small watermelon)
Cooking spray


  1. Prepare an indoor or outdoor grill
  2. In a small saucepan, whisk together cocoa powder, Splenda and water. Bring to a simmer for one minute over medium heat. Whisk in the vanilla and Smart Balance off the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Skewer the strawberries and other fruit on the soaked wooden skewer. Coat all of the fruit pieces with cooking spray and grill for 3 – 4 minutes on each side just to mark the outside of the fruit. Do not cook all the way through.
  4. Remove from grill and let cool. Cut the fruit into equal sized chunks and combine a medium bowl.
  5. Divide the fruit among 6 bowls and drizzle with 1 tbsp. of the chocolate sauce.