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Fire up the grill for these healthy cookout ideas

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Summertime means cookout time, but just because it comes from the grill doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy! We have ideas for keeping your summer diet healthy for your heart and your waistline—all it takes is thinking a little differently about the standard grilled menu.

Go fishin’
Forgo the traditional beef griller for fish! Oily fish, like tuna and salmon, are full of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients. You could form patties or treat a fillet with lemon juice, and add your favorite herbs and spices for even more flavor. Keep in mind fish cooks fast, so you want to be attentive while you are grilling it.

Slim down your burger
If you can’t go without your red meat, use lean or extra lean beef and drain or pat off the excess fat after you’ve grilled it. Did you know that the recommended serving size for a hamburger patty is three ounces? A three ounce burger is the roughly the size of the palm of your hand. Keep your patties on the slim side, or add in finely chopped vegetables like peppers or onions to make a thick burger that’s heavy on nutrients.

Think green
Take the mixed veggie-burger one step further by grilling vegetables instead of meat. Kabobs are an easy way to grill up a variety of veggies, and they’re easy to handle, too. Fill a skewer with veggies like mushrooms, peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini or yellow squash—anything with some “flesh” to it should work well. Lightly spray the skewered veggies with olive oil and place them on the grill. For the most flavor you’ll want to keep flipping occasionally, until they are slightly blackened. You can also grill corn on the cob right in its husk; place on the grill for about 30 minutes, rotating occasionally. Let it cool for about five minutes after removing it from the grill, and before you peel the husk off.

Fruit too
Consider grilling some fruit for a deep sweet taste. You can grill peaches, nectarines, watermelon, pineapple and more. You will need to lightly oil the grill and set it to medium-high heat. Then simply cut the fruit in half (peaches) or in slices (watermelon and pineapple) and place on the grill for about three to four minutes on one side, and then flip them over and grill the other side for two to three minutes.

Take baked, not fried
Don’t forget the sides! If you don’t own a fryer, you’ve probably never considered making your own fries. This baked option is healthier and allows you to get your fry fix right at home! Slice your choice of potatoes into sticks and place on a cookie sheet. Lightly spray with olive oil, add your choice of seasoning and bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees. You can also try zucchini fries or kale chips!

What are your favorite healthy summertime recipes? Let us know in the comments, and don’t be afraid to get creative the next time you fire up the grill!

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