While I just earned 50 brownie points from my sister for making a Wizard of Oz reference, for many people, food preparation, especially grilling, can be as scary as flying monkeys.(That’s another 50 points!)
Grilling is most commonly associated with the meats: chicken, burgers, steak and hotdogs. But did you know, this cooking method is also a wonderful opportunity to prepare fruit and vegetable sides too! And, summer is one of the most bountiful seasons for produce, making it easy to purchase fresh, colorful additions to your meals.
For vegetables, all you need is three simple ingredients: olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and pepper. Zucchini, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and asparagus make excellent choices for first-time vegetable grillers. Simply brush a little olive oil on the vegetables, add your seasonings and in less than 10 minutes, your vegetables should be done! Adding fruits and vegetables to your grill plate has benefits of color, nutrients (vitamins, minerals and fiber) and they help make up a well-balanced meal.
Too often, I see grilled items being served with potato salad, beans and mac n cheese. While potatoes are a vegetable and beans are a good source of fiber, all three of these items are starches. A well-balanced meal should only contain no more than one starch item and most of the time, that role is filled by the bun (preferably whole wheat) used for meat.
When you grill fruit, you often intensify its flavor. Peaches, pineapple slices and apples are some of my favorite fruits to throw on the grill. They make fantastic additions to meals or add a new twist to healthy desserts. Season apple slices with cinnamon and nutmeg, grill and serve with 1 ½ cup scoop of frozen Greek yogurt for an instant hit with the family. Kabobs can be created using fruits or vegetables. Try marinating vegetable kabobs in Italian dressing or drizzle a little bit of chocolate sauce over cooked fruit kabobs.
Serving food on a stick is another secret weapon for getting kids of all ages to eat their fruits and vegetables.
This Lemon-Mint Pork Chop and Grilled Peach recipe is an Olympic Gold Medalist at our household.
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 4 boneless pork chops
- 1 small red onion, cut into wedges
- 2 peaches, halved, pitted and cut into 1 inch wedges
1. Combine all ingredients except for peaches in a large Ziploc bag. Shake ingredients and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or overnight, preferred).
2. Grill pork chops on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, turning only once.
3. Place onions and peaches on grill and cook for 4 minutes, turning frequently until crisp and tender.
4. Divide among 4 plates and serve with a couple leaves of mint and parsley for garnish.