Warm weather is still here and with both college and NFL football underway there is a good chance you will be spending some time outdoors this weekend. Whether you are tailgating at a stadium or in your own backyard, there is also a good chance that a grill will be involved—and we’ve got some culinary inspiration for you.
Grilling doesn’t have to be limited to hamburgers and hotdogs! We talked to two dietitians—sports dietitian Ellen Davis, RD, CSSD, LD and Erin Thole, MS, MBA, RDN, CSSD, LDN—to help you put a healthy spin on this weekend’s grub to not only help you get creative, but also make sure you are getting nutrients to power your weekend.
In need of some grilling tips? First, invest in a good thermometer. “When preparing different cuts of meat or seafood on the grill, utilize a meat thermometer to ensure minimum internal temperatures have been met to reduce the risk for food borne illness,” urges Davis.
Second, pay extra attention to the cut of meat when grilling. “If you are grilling a fatty piece of meat be mindful that the fat drippings can cause flame flare up that creates smoke and carcinogens,” adds Thole. “Rather, grill lean cuts of meat to reduce smoke flare ups.”
Don’t have a grill or sufficient outdoor space? No problem! You can invest in a cast iron grill pan, which will work, too! You don’t have to be left out of the fun.
Now, plan your feast with these meats, seafoods and vegetables that you can grill up this weekend.
"Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, beneficial for runners because of their anti-inflammatory effect," explains Davis. "Boosting intake of omega-3 fatty acids may improve muscle recovery and reduce soreness."
"It not only supplies protein for runners to help rebuild muscles, but selenium as well," shares Thole. "Selenium is an important mineral that protects muscles from free radical damage caused by pounding the pavement."
"This is great source of iron; iron plays an important role in transporting oxygen throughout the body, especially important for runners," notes Davis. "Choose a cut of steak with 'round' or 'loin' in the name for a lean cut of beef and choose an appropriate portion size for your energy needs."
"These pack a powerful punch of complex carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals beneficial to runners," explains Davis. "Complex carbohydrates are broken down slowly and provide a sustained amount of energy or can be stored as energy for use later. Prepare sweet potatoes in a variety of ways and try different spices—sweet or savory—to appeal to your taste preference."
"Broccoli may not seem like a traditional vegetable for the grill, but because it’s stalks are woody, it holds up well," notes Thole. "Broccoli has nutritional properties that not only helps detoxify the body but also has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory qualities. Just make sure not to over grill the broccoli so those key nutrients are not lost."
"Bell peppers are a great source of vitamins A, C and E, beneficial for antioxidant purposes and for strengthening the immune system," says Davis. "Wrap bell pepper slices in aluminum foil, drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper before grilling. Pair mixed bell peppers with chicken or steak fajitas or use the mix to top your favorite cut of lean steak."
"Eggplant is a blank canvas for flavor but not for nutrition," suggests Thole. "Eggplant is full of fiber, manganese, B vitamins, folate, vitamin K and antioxidants. This combination of nutrients help protect cell membranes from damage while also helping reduce overall cholesterol."
"Asparagus is great on the grill and even better as part of your runner's fueling plan," adds Davis. "Asparagus packs vitamin K beneficial for bone health, folate, which promotes healthy blood cells, and vitamin C, which helps the absorption of plant sources of iron."