Grilling Season

posted by Jenna Walsh on Thursday, April 11, 2019

Spring has sprung! With the weather being warmer, it’s finally my favorite time of the year – Grilling season. What a perfect opportunity to bring cooking outdoors, while still enjoying quick, yet healthful, meals. Here some simple tips to make this grilling season more beneficial for your health.

Get Lean

Choosing a lean protein to grill is essential. Options like skinless chicken breast, fish, or pork are great because they cut back on saturated fat intake. Try replacing some of your typical beef recipes with leaner alternatives. Check out this recipe for chicken burgers.

Veggies, Veggies, Veggies!

My Plate recommendations suggest making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and the grill is a nice tool to make sure this gets accomplished. I like to keep it simple and combine my favorite vegetables like zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, onion, carrots, and peppers in a foil pack. A drizzle of olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano, and pepper and they are ready to grill. Feel free to vary your vegetables and allow many colors and flavors.  You may be surprised about the difference in flavor of grilled vegetables verses how you typically prepare them.

Think Kabobs

An effortless way to combine a protein and veggie is making kabobs. This offers a chance to get your colorful vegetables in, and even kid friendly.

Go easy on sauces

Depending on the sauce, it can be packed with additional sodium, added sugars, or saturated fats. Make a better-for-you meal and choose alternates to smothering your creations in sauce. Items like sodium-free seasoning blends, lemon juice, or herbs and spices can still provide flavor without the extra sodium. If you must use a sauce, remember moderation is key and use sparingly instead of soaking.


Make your meal complete with a side of fruit! Variety is key and choose a selection of different fruits. Fruit can be added as a refreshing side option, or even dessert. You can even grill fruit to provide a different flavor profile as the natural sugars caramelize. Grilled fruit can satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthful way.

Bun, or no bun

You do not have to feel guilty to enjoy a bun with your hamburger. Of course, choosing half a bun or lettuce wrap options will provide a lower carb meal. If you like the bun, simply swapping a traditional hamburger bun for whole wheat buns will provide your meal with more fiber and ultimately more satisfying.

Enjoy with friends and family!

The warmer weather brings many of us together, and what a perfect way to get your friends and family involved over food. A personal favorite of my family’s is make-your-own grilled pizza night.  Pizza is a food that can provide all the different food groups in one dish. Simply make a whole-wheat crust option, or buy pre-made options for convenience. Be sure to top with your favorite vegetables, proteins, and maybe even fruit. You’ll be sure to have a customizable meal for everyone to enjoy – along with the warmer temperatures of spring and summer! 

About The Author

Jenna Walsh

Jenna Walsh is one of Spencer Hospital’s Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. She graduated from Iowa State University and completed her dietetic internship at various locations throughout northwest Iowa, including Spencer Hospital. She currently works as an outpatient dietitian providing in ... read more