HEALTH

More than meats on the grill: Next time beef it up with nutritious veggies and fruits

  • Manuel Villacorta

     (Manuel Villacorta)

  • Manuel Villacorta

     (Manuel Villacorta)

Start off by thinking outside the world of meats and try adding some vegetables to “beef up” the grill: zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and corn, for example, would add a good dose of nutrients with a wide array of health benefits.

The same can be said about throwing some fruits on the grill, which will also add a different layer of flavor. By adding fruit, such as peaches, pineapple and watermelon, you let the natural sugars caramelize with the heat, resulting in a delicious, concentrated flavor.

As always, remember that when picking fruits and vegetables it is important to pick a range of colors to benefit the most from antioxidants and phytochemicals. Using the full rainbow spectrum of foods can boost your immune system and support the repair processes in your cells. That’s because the phytochemicals that give plants their color — the blue in your blueberries, the orange in your carrots — have antioxidant effects, helping to clear away the free radicals in your body. A free radical is an unstable molecule that latches onto healthy cells making them unstable as well, even to the point of contacting our DNA and mutating the strains. The antioxidants in anti-inflammatory fruits, vegetables, herbs, whole grains and fats can help reduce the number and effect of free radicals by neutralizing free floating free radicals throughout the body. But each phytochemical has a different strength, which is why you need to eat a rainbow of them, not just one.

Drinks
During summer outings, hydration can play a big part in nutrition. Instead of limiting options to either sodas or alcoholic beverages, try adding flavored fruit spritzers. Adding fruits to sparkling water can give you a satisfying and refreshing break from other beverages, while also cutting calories and adding some superfruit power. I recommend using fruits like strawberry, blueberry and raspberry. Mix it up some more by adding herbs like mint to give you a lasting, cooling off sensation.

Cooking oil
When it comes to the grill, I like to use oils that can take on the heat. Canola oil has a high heat tolerance and a smoking point of 468 °F, which stands up to the fire on the grill. In addition, it also has a neutral flavor and light texture, allowing the taste of your food to really shine.

Lean meats
Don’t forget to add some fresh fish to the grill. This is a great way to add more health benefits, especially if you choose superfood salmon, with its omega-3 content. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids, especially from fish, protect your heart. Most lean meat cuts have the word “loin” or “round” in the name. This lets you know that these types of cuts are leaner than other cuts. My favorite cut of beef that I use is top sirloin steak because of its amazing flavor and texture. Here, I present to you my Latin Fusion Sirloin Skewers, using top sirloin steak.

Latin fusion sirloin skewers

Ingredients
For the marinade:

1 cup lime juice
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons aji chili paste, or other chili paste
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped

For steak:
2 pounds top sirloin steak, cut into 2-inch cubes (approx. 1-oz each)
1 medium red onion, rough chop
1 green bell pepper, rough chop
1 red bell pepper, rough chop
1 yellow bell pepper, rough chop
1 orange bell pepper, rough chop
Canola oil spray
Skewers, wooden or metal

Directions
1. Whisk together lime juice, soy sauce, canola oil, pepper, garlic, chili paste and cilantro to make the marinade.
2. After cutting the steak into cubes, pour marinade on top of steak. Marinade for 1 hour.
3. If you are using wooden skewers, place them in water to soak.
4. While you are marinating the steak and soaking the skewers, begin chopping up the vegetables. Place the vegetables in a bowl and set aside.
5. After the steak is done marinating, drain the skewers and prepare an assembly line for making the skewers. Grab one skewer and alternate between the steak and vegetables, in no particular order. Limit 3 pieces of steak per skewer.
6. Heat up the grill to medium high heat. If you are using an indoor griddle, heat up the griddle to medium high heat. Spray with canola oil spray.
7. Cook the skewers for 5 minutes. Flip them over and cook for another 5 minutes. Flip the skewers back over again and cook for an additional 5 minutes. This will give you a meat temperature of medium.

Portions: 4   Serving Size: 2 skewers

Manuel Villacorta is a registered dietitian in private practice, MV Nutrition, award winning nutrition and weight loss center in San Francisco. He is the founder and creator of Eating Free, an international weight management and wellness program and author of three books, Eating Free: The Carb Friendly Way to Lose Inches, Peruvian Power Foods: 18 Superfoods, 101 Recipes, and Anti-Aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes and his newest book, Whole Body Reboot: The Peruvian Superfoods Diet to Detoxify, Energize, and Supercharge Fat Loss.

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