Grilling is one of the highlights of summer. Standards like hot dogs and hamburgers come to mind when thinking of barbeques, but why not add fruits and vegetables to your grill? Grilling helps caramelize fruits and vegetables, which brings out their natural sweetness and flavor. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends enjoying 4 to 5 cups fruits and vegetables each day by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal. Grilling fruits and vegetables is a fun and easy way to help you meet this recommendation.
Top 5 Fruits & Veggies for Grilling
- Peaches. Fruit is the perfect summer dessert. Peaches are a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A. These vitamins help promote immunity and eye health. Grill peaches and top with whipped cream for a dessert that is low in calories but high in flavor.
- Peppers. Have you thought of tossing these very versatile vegetables on the grill? Red bell peppers are high in the antioxidants vitamin C and lycopene. Lycopene is more available to your body in foods that have been cooked. Grill a large batch of peppers and use them throughout the week in salads, sandwiches and on burgers.
- Squash. Summer squash and zucchini are abundant come summer. They are high in vitamin C and contain manganese. Manganese is essential for building strong bones and joints in the body. Common ways to prepare squash are to sauté or roast, but who wants to heat up the kitchen during the summer? To grill, coat in olive oil, fresh herbs like thyme and salt-free spices like garlic powder. Then add to shish kabobs for a nutritious dinner!
- Corn. Knee high by the 4th of July, corn is a popular summer vegetable. It is high in vitamin C and carotenoids, which promote eye health and immunity. Corn on the cob can be time-consuming to prepare due to the removal of the husk and hair. So, soak cobs in water first then grill with the husks on. When the husks are removed the hairs will slide right off leaving perfect, juicy, sweet corn.
- Pineapple. Though perhaps not in season locally in your area, pineapple is a great snack to beat the summer heat. It’s high in vitamin C and manganese. One serving provides over 50% of your daily vitamin C needs. Grill pineapple chunks on skewers and top with cottage cheese or frozen yogurt for a snack. Or, add to salads for a sweet surprise.
Summer offers a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables. Grilling is a creative way to experiment while impressing your family and friends. Savor the season!
Andrea Samson, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian for the Living Well Eating Smart Program
Big Y Foods
Erica Siver, BS
University of Saint Joseph