Here in Texas, where I live, it’s already wicked hot and that means one thing…Summer fruits and vegetables have arrived! If you’re like me, you’ve already stocked up on the juicy berries, sweet cherries, plump melons, crisp green beans, aromatic peaches, and of course, homegrown tomatoes. It couldn’t be a better time to celebrate National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month
Not only are fruits and veggies low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals, they are nature’s powerhouses filled with anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging and heart-protecting antioxidants and other phytonutrients. And, because of their high fiber content and ability to help people feel full and eat less, they can be our biggest allies in the war on obesity.
We all know we should eat more fruits and vegetables. But what’s the best way when the summer months hit? I’ve got one word for you. GRILL.
I can promise you that grilled fruits and vegetables will turn even the biggest fruit skeptic into a fruit lover. Grilling brings out the natural flavors in fruits and vegetables and intensifies their natural sugars through a process called caramelization. With the exception of roasting, there’s no other cooking method that comes close to matching the flavors of grilled fruits and vegetables.
If you are new to grilling fruits and vegetables, here’s a quick primer to get you started:
Grilled Fruit & Veggies 101
Fruits for Grilling
- Be sure to clean the grill grates well to remove residue from previously grilled foods. Nobody wants a grilled pineapple flavored with bits of burger and chicken!
- Watch the time and temperature. Fruits and some vegetables don’t require high heat or a lot of time on the grill as a rule. However, the thicker the veggie, the more time it will need to cook evenly. Avoid burning by adjusting the temperature accordingly and placing them on the cooler spots of the grill.
- Using skewers? If they’re wooden, be sure to soak them well to eliminate a potential fire hazard. Don’t be afraid to skewer fruits and vegetables.
- Invest in a vegetable grill pan. You’d hate to see your beautiful produce fall between the grates, never to be seen again.
- When grilling vegetables, always grill in large batches. Take advantage of having the grill on and grill your veggies for the week at one time. They will keep for several days and they freeze very well.
Slice pineapple in spears or rings and grill until they are warmed throughout. Delicious on its own or pair with ice cream or yogurt for a sweet treat.
Peaches or other stone fruits:
Slice; remove the pit and lay flesh side down on a low temperature grill. Once slightly softened, remove and add a dollop of mascarpone cheese or Greek yogurt and sprinkle with gingersnaps for an impressive dessert.
Spread a bit of butter or margarine on the outside of a whole, peeled banana. Add to breakfast smoothies or spread with peanut butter or Nutella.
Veggies for Grilling
A splash of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper is all asparagus needs to shine. Add a touch of balsamic vinegar or sesame seeds just prior to serving for added flavor.
Follow the same directions as as above with the exception of the sesame seeds.
Great for meatless meals, these mushrooms are hearty and can stand up to the heat of the grill. When grilled, their meaty texture mimics that of a steak or burger. Asian inspired marinades pair well as do balsamic vinaigrettes.
What other fruits and vegetables do you like to grill? Please share your recipes!
Robin Plotkin, RD, LD, knows the challenges of getting a fast, healthy and tasty meal on the table. As a registered dietitian and a mom, Robin provides realistic tools and resources for families in need of stress-free meal times. Follow her blog at: http://www.robinsbite.com