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Healthy Summer Grilling Tips

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By Aimee Burnett

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KSVT-TV ) An abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables makes summer a great time to eat healthy, even if you take your cooking outdoors.

Grilling for many is synonymous with summer, but just because you take your cooking outdoors doesn't mean you have to lose the nutrition.

Sticking to the MyPlate guidelines will help you do just that.

"Half of your plate is divided out so you have fruits and vegetables. So, we want to make sure that we're getting that all the time," explained Melissa Sleight, a Registered Dietician at St. Luke’s Magic Valley.

Squash and asparagus are great veggies to throw on the grill, but there are plenty of fruit options too.

"You can grill peaches, you can grill plums, you can get a little grilling basket and put other berries or strawberries in it."

Then on the flip side of the plate you have protein and grains, which you want to minimize somewhat.

"We tend to get a little carried away and sometimes we have a 16 oz steak that's covering our whole plate, but if we can keep these grains to about a quarter of our plate and our protein as well, that will give us a good balance of all the nutrients we need with enough filling power and sustenance to it," Sleight explains.

So just how much meat makes up the protein section typically?

"About 3 oz... we also might use the palm of our hand as a serving size," said Sleight.

Meaning someone a little bit bigger can eat a little more protein than someone of average size. And, can parents use the same reference for kids as well.

"If it's a 16 oz steak that should be divided between about four people," said Sleight.

As far as grains go… that one is easy since two popular grilling items fall into that category.

"So remember potatoes and corn count more like a bread," said Sleight.

And, despite the carb counting diet recommendations a bun is okay in MyPlate standards.

"If you need a bun for your burger or your chicken patty or whatever it is, don't have a potato with it," Sleight recommends.

Keeping track of your portion sizes will help you get the nutrients you need without the excess calories.

For more grilling recipes head to www.choosemyplate.gov