As summer, backyard barbeque and scantily clad swimsuit season simultaneously charge into full swing, we are forced to consider the grand paradox and confounding reality of this season –
- The unquenchable urge to consume mouthwatering bite upon soul-satisfying bite of slowly smoked bourbon barbeque-slathered baby back ribs, seared blue cheese-stuffed olive tapenade burgers, caramelized apple-ginger galettes with fluffy vanilla bean whipped cream – and, all washed down with handfuls of crisp, ice cold local craft ales, lagers and stouts.
- And, at the same time intending to look our best adorned in slim fit board shorts and 2-piece bathing suits on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon laying poolside or playing a few sweaty rounds of beach volleyball!
Oh boy. Decisions. Decisions?!
Well. I’m here to tell you – you can have the best of both worlds and it doesn’t require hiring a bank-breaking personal trainer, dietician or world class outdoor chef to make it happen!
That said, as we dive into this month’s grilling recipe, it’s important to recall two key points:
- The benefits of grilling and outdoor cooking are too numerous to count and all well-documented – but, not without mention that great foods (even those we consider “healthy”), no matter their source, are best enjoyed in moderation.
- But, then again, didn’t Julia Child note, “Everything in moderation… including moderation.” 🙂
Below are some of my favorite tested best practices when it comes to healthy, grilling recipes and a healthy you:
- Fill your grill grates with copious amounts of colorful vegetables & fruits. My backyard barbeques are often highlighted by fire-roasted romaine salads, smoky basil pesto corn on the cob, seared prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, grilled sweet potato steak fries, and barbequed inside-out apple cobbler.
- Anyone can lay steak to flame, but it takes an artist to complete an entire meal over a white-hot set of grill grates!
- Build flavor and complexity through a garden of fresh herbs, citrus juices and grated zests, ground spices and bold seasonings. Express moderation in use oils, dairy butters, synthetic or processed fats, sugars and salt. And, as my incredibly talented friend, Carolyn O’Neil, M.S., R.D. says, “The MORE you know, the MORE you can eat!”
So, here are a few quick stats:
- Although fats are a necessary part of all diets, oil is 100% fat, lacks a significant degree of nutrients & 2 tablespoons alone pack nearly 250 calories.
- Every 10 days the average American must burn an additional 3500 calories just to make up for the volume of their dietary sugar intake – Just to maintain their current weight. -American Heart Association
- The World Health Organization advises that reducing salt intake is as important as discontinuing smoking cigarettes, when it comes to hedging the risks of heart disease!
- Skewers are an incredibly simple means to assist in more easily and evenly managing your meal over the grill grates, adding flavor through the use of veggies and fruits skewered between your proteins, all while effortlessly integrating the discipline of portion control (there’s only so much rib eye you can load on 1 skewer!).
- Tip: The American Diabetes Association recommends 6oz daily of lean proteins. Plan ahead and divide your 6oz portion across 2 or 3 skewers, loaded with fruits and vegetables – Satisfying daily nutritional requirements, while building a complete, delicious, flame-seared meal.
That said, I am in love with the healthy grilled recipe below. This bacon-wrapped and grilled Georgia peach summer salad is elementary in preparation, using many ingredients most likely already on-hand or in the garden, while offering an unique complexity, depth and contrast in flavor. Above all, this recipe is fun, presents beautifully, and in moderation, is the perfect stand-alone or light dish accompaniment to any backyard barbeque.
Cheers to the summer, healthy, delicious grilling and a strong, dietary-empowered you!
- 4-6 ripe peaches
- 16oz lean-cut bacon, trimmed and slices cut in half
- 1/3 cup extra virgin light olive oil
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup all-natural maple syrup
- 1oz bourbon
- 2-3 rosemary sprigs
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 pinches cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn, to taste
- Tooth picks
- Fresh arugula, baby spinach and basil
- Heirloom tomatoes and shallots, finely sliced
- Pistachios, lightly roasted and chopped
- Parmesan cheese, shaved
- Balsamic reduction, homemade or use a store-bought brand of your choice
- Slice the peaches into sixths, wrap firmly with bacon, and skewer with tooth picks through flesh side of the fruit. In an airtight plastic bag, pour in the oil, honey, maple syrup, bourbon, herbs, seasonings and the skewered fruit. Mix well to ensure the bacon-wrapped peaches are entirely covered. Seal and set aside in the refrigerator to marinate for 2-3 hours.
- Fifteen minutes prior to cooking, preheat the grill to high.
- Remove wrapped peaches from the refrigerator, discard marinade and apply immediately to the grill over direct heat, with an open lid. Sear on each side for 2-3 minutes until the bacon is crisp and fruit is just tender, ensuring not to overcook. Pull peaches from the grill, remove skewers and rest for 3-5 minutes uncovered.
- Meanwhile, toss the salad mix, tomatoes, and shallots. Plate salad and dress with the grilled peaches. Garnish with pistachios, parmesan and drizzle in a tangy balsamic reduction. Season additionally to taste.