Tis’ the season for salt-free grilling

Spending an evening by the barbecue grilling out with friends and family is time well spent. But the corn on the cob, red meat, burger buns and sodas from a single cookout can deliver a whopping dose of unwanted fat, sugar and sodium.

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Watching what we eat doesn’t mean missing out on our favorite foods and festivities. By planning ahead and making smart food choices, we can have a great time grilling while making grilling good for us, too!

Meat selection:

The best choice for burgers is 92% or 95% lean ground beef, especially if it’s sirloin. This gives the meatiest flavor for the lowest amount of fat. But beware of burger buns loaded with sodium. King’s Hawaiian burger and hot dog buns are a low-sodium bread option (135 g per bun) or skip the “bread bomb” altogether and get creative by wrapping your burger in crunchy lettuce or grilled portabella mushroom slices.

If you’re craving steak, avoid fatty cuts such as T-bone and ribeye. Leaner cuts like top round and top sirloin are lower in fat and calories and taste more flavorful. Since lean steaks can toughen if cooked past medium, they’re an excellent choice for marinades.

While red meat is fine for special occasions, the healthiest choices for frequent grilling are chicken and seafood. You can’t go wrong with skinless, boneless chicken breasts, a plank of boneless salmon or jumbo shrimp on a skewer. To make sure your meat isn’t hiding a ton of sodium absorbed during transportation or processing, buy it frozen in a package with a nutrition label.

Before leaving the grocery store, swing by the produce section for some fresh vegetables to add to the grill. Corn on the cob tastes great grilled, as do zucchini, summer squash, carrots, mushrooms and onions. Brush vegetables with extra virgin olive oil before grilling and pack a little extra punch with salt-free seasonings such as Mickey & T’s Lemon Pepper or Great Garlic Pepper.

Rather than dipping grilled meat in high-sodium sauces or ketchup, add flavor before grilling with a marinade or dry rub

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Marinating:

A marinade helps tenderize tough meat and make it juicier while also adding robust flavor.

At our sister site, Foods4YourHealth, we offer a broad selection of affordable, mouth-watering, low-sodium and salt-free marinades. I recommend Mr. Spice Salt Free Honey BBQ for steaks, burgers and ribs and Mr. Spice Salt Free Honey Mustard for chicken and fish. If you like a dash of hot sauce, you’ll love Mr. Spice Salt Free Tangy Bang!, the world’s first hot sauce that’s salt- and sodium-free.

To marinate meat, place meat in a glass or stainless steel container—not an aluminum one, since aluminum reacts unfavorably to the food acids contained in marinades—and pour the marinade over it, making sure to coat the entire surface. (Apply the marinade immediately after taking the meat out of the freezer; it doesn’t need to thaw first.) Then, cover the container and place it in the fridge so the meat can thaw while absorbing the marinade.

Shrimp only needs to marinate about 15 minutes, while salmon and other fish need between 20 and 30 minutes. Veggies also require about 30 minutes. Chicken, pork, beef and lamb need at least three hours, but for maximum flavor absorption, it’s best to let them marinate overnight.

Rubs:

Dry rubs form a savory crust on the surface of the meat as it grills. They work well on all types and cuts of meat, but their bold taste can overpower smaller, thinner pieces.

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We carry a wide variety of Mickey & T’s meat rubs at Foods4YourHealth to offer versatility without the burden of salt and MSG. No matter what’s for dinner—beef, ribs, chicken, fish or even wild game—Mickey & T’s has a specialty salt-free rub to complement and enhance the meat’s natural flavor.

Craving a specific style of cooking? Try Mickey & T’s A Taste of Mexico, A Taste of Jamaica, or A Taste of Louisiana. Looking for a tasty all-purpose seasoning? Try Mickey & T’s All-American. Better yet, try them all with our Pick 3, Pick 4, or Pick 5 deal.

Applying a rub is easy. Using about ¼ cup of rub for each medium-sized steak, rub the spices onto each side of the meat. Make sure to rub the edges as well, thoroughly covering the meat’s entire surface area so the crust will form evenly.

Like marinades, rubs deliver the best flavor when the meat is given time to absorb the seasonings, so let the meat rest for at least 15 minutes before grilling. The longer the rest, the stronger the flavor. Remember that the crust can burn, so it’s best to cook the meat slowly over low heat.

Happy grilling!

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Photo: Grilled Zucchini 4of5 by Breville USA courtesy of www.flickr.comCC license

 

 

 

Author: Carla Spencer

Carla Spencer is a Registered Dietitian and founder of 2 Your Health. Her extensive career working with individuals with health challenges led her to create this site dedicated to helping people enjoy their lives while working to prevent or minimize the impact of kidney disease.

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