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May 23, 2016 / Nicole Villeneuve

How to Adapt Healthy Recipes for the Grill

Adapt recipes for the grill

It’s nearly summer, that hallowed time of year when the grills, tongs and barbecue aprons come out (no parka required). If the thought of cooking al fresco conjures up images of burgers and brats (and your healthy sensibilities start panicking), we have good news: the grill isn’t just for ballpark food!

Here’s how to adapt your favorite healthy recipes for the grill, from steaming and poaching to baking -- even pizza-making.

Save hours of planning. Create your healthy summer meal plan on PlateJoy!

How to turn your grill into an oven

Forget overheating your house on a hot summer day by using the oven: your barbecue can do the job! While a grill uses direct-contact heat to cook food, an oven uses indirect heat. You’ll want to aim to heat the grill in such a way that you leave space to position food so it’s not touching a heat source. This might mean turning on only one of the burners or using only the outside ones, or arranging charcoal so it burns in a circle, leaving a space in the middle for your food to sit.

Preheat the grill 25 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the temperature called for in the recipe: grills lose heat more quickly when opened than an oven, so this bit of buffer will ensure more consistent cooking. Avoid opening and closing the lid too frequently to maintain temperature. Place a sheet of foil between the grill and your baking sheet to prevent scorching of the sheet and bake as usual. Check (quickly) towards the end of the bake time in case your goodies start to burn.

How to steam or poach

No need to run back and forth to the stove while your other dishes are grilling. It’s easy to steam or poach in a foil packet. ake one by laying a large sheet of foil on a flat surface and setting your ingredients in the center. Pull one side of the foil over to the other (hamburger style), roll the edges together to seal, then fold the remaining two sides in to close. Don’t seal it too tightly, as you’ll want to leave some room for steam to expand. Fish and veggies will cook to perfection in about 10 minutes.

How to cook greens

Have the most interesting salad at a cookout by taking your greens to the next level. You can grill cabbage, romaine and hearts of palm just as you would corn, zucchini or peppers! Simply cut your head of greens in half, lightly grease with olive oil and place cut-side down on the grill. Five minutes should leave you with some beautiful grill marks and a delicious base for a salad. (Fun fact: you can do the same thing with watermelon!)

How to make pizza (and quesadillas)

Game changer. Preheat your grill, then brush the bottom of your flattened dough with olive oil and place on the barbecue. Once grill marks appear, remove the dough from the heat, flip it over and add toppings to the cooked side. Return your pizza to the grill to cook the other side. To get the best bubbly cheese, close the lid for the last two to three minutes. You can use the same principle for perfectly melty quesadillas!

Save hours of planning. Create your healthy summer meal plan on PlateJoy!

Nicole Villeneuve

Nicole Villeneuve is a certified Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. A graduate of Yale University, she previously worked in book publishing, with a focus on cookbooks and health, and ran the food blog Paper and Salt. Her writing has been featured in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and The Daily Beast. Nicole lives in San Francisco and loves cooking, reading, exploring new restaurants, and running by the ocean. You can (very occasionally) find her on Twitter.

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