Summer seasonings for healthy goodness

Bite into a picnic hamburger, chicken kebab, corn on the cob, or a spoon of coleslaw and what you want is a big burst of juicy, delicious flavor, right?. But will a plateful of great taste come loaded with fat and calories?  Not necessarily. Most popular summer foods can be prepared deliciously without high-calorie culprits like butter, mayonnaise and creamy dressing.  Here’s how:

Dry Rubs
A dry rub is a blend of spices and seasonings that flavor meat without calories. It works its magic by creating a flavorful crust on meat rather than smothering it with gooey, fatty, overpowering liquid such as BBQ sauce. Dry rubs compliment the natural flavor of meat without fat and you can tailor your mix of seasonings for a taste that’s slightly sweet, salty, spicy, or a little bit of everything. Dry rubs are best on foods that cook quickly and popular spices include paprika, dry mustard, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, unrefined salt, white pepper, lemon pepper, cayenne, coriander, cumin, dried lemon/lime zest, brown sugar, sage and thyme.

Wet Rubs
A wet rub is essentially the same as a dry rub, but with moisture that helps the flavors seep into the food. Wet rubs are great on meat, poultry, seafood, and veggies that grill slowly, such as portabella mushrooms and zucchini. The wet component of your rub can be anything, from beer, wine, bourbon, soy sauce, cider vinegar, vegetable oil (peanut, olive, canola etc.), to Worcester sauce, honey, molasses, Dijon mustard, and fruit juice. To keep calories to a minimum go with flavorful liquids like vinegars, mustards, or tomato sauces.

Brining is a process similar to marinating that involves soaking meat in a solution of salt and water before cooking. Brining hydrates the cells of muscle tissue so it cooks up tender and juicy.

Smoking is the process of flavoring and cooking food by exposing it to the smoke from burning plant materials (usually wood). Meat and fish are the most commonly smoked foods and cold smoking is best for adding smoky flavor without dehydrating the flesh.

Lemons, limes and oranges make it simple to jazz up those proteins headed for the grill. Citrus fruits not only add bright, tangy flavor, citric acid helps tenderize flesh by breaking down connective tissue so that meats, fish and poultry always come off the grill moist and tender.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website