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How to Form Healthy Grilling Habits

With warmer weather comes grilling season. Grilling is the perfect way to bring family and friends together to enjoy some quality food and fresh air. But just how healthy are your grilling habits?

There are two obstacles when it comes to grilling: cancer-causing char and high fat contents. But both of these things can be avoided. Charring can be avoided by marinating and flipping frequently. Studies have shown that cancerous compounds form when fat from your meat drips into the grill and are charred into the food by flame-ups and rising smoke.

To keep unwanted fats, saturated fats, calories and cholesterol out of your diet, opt for leaner, lower-fat meats, as well as alternatives and sides. If you’re looking for ideas, check out these lower-fat recipes—one for meat lovers and one for vegetarians—courtesy of WebMD:

Cajun Sirloin Burgers
Serve these spicy ground sirloin or turkey burgers on a whole-grain bun dressed with lettuce, tomato and red onion and the barbecue sauce of your choice.

1 pound ground sirloin (extra-lean ground beef); or substitute ground turkey with about 6% fat
3 tablespoons dry Italian breadcrumbs
3-4 tablespoons egg substitute
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
4 slices (4 ounces) reduced-fat Jack or mozzarella cheese
4 whole-grain buns
1/4 cup barbecue sauce of your choice
4 lettuce leaves
4 large tomato slices
About 12 rings of red onion

  1. Preheat grill to high.
  2. In an 8-cup measure, blend the ground meat, breadcrumbs, egg substitute, green onions, Cajun seasoning, and mustard by mixing with your hands. Form into 4 patties, by hand or with a patty press.
  3. Lightly coat the grill grate with canola cooking spray. Cook the patties 5 minutes per side, or until well done. Place a slice of the cheese on each burger and allow to melt.
  4. Serve the burgers on whole-grain buns dressed with barbecue sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Teriyaki Portabella Mushroom Burger with Garlic Mayonnaise

2 portabella mushrooms (about 3 1/2 inches wide), cleaned and stems removed
2 tablespoons bottled teriyaki sauce
2 large, thin slices reduced-fat Jack cheese (1-2 ounces)
2 multigrain or whole-wheat hamburger buns
2 leaves lettuce
4 tomato slices

Garlic Mayonnaise: 
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4-1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
A few drops Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Ground pepper and seasoning salt to taste

  1. Fire up the coals or grill. Spread teriyaki sauce over the mushrooms and let marinate while the coals heat.
  2. Grill the mushrooms about 6 inches from the heat until tender (about 4-5 minutes a side).
  3. Put cheese on top and grill briefly to melt.
  4. Assemble burgers by placing lettuce and tomato on each bottom bun. Top with the cheese-topped mushroom. Spread each top bun lightly with half the garlic mayonnaise and place on top of the mushroom (the lettuce keeps the bottom bun from getting soggy).