You Might be Surprised at Your Choices

Tifani Kinard

Note: The following Live Well Polk column was provided by Atrium Health Floyd, a sponsor of Polk Today content. Tifani Kinard, Vice President of Rural Health for Atrium Health Floyd, provided this item to Polk Today for readers to enjoy. – KtE

Memorial Day is just around the corner, signaling the start of the intense summer grilling season.

For many people, it might also begin the start of the summer weight gain as we start munching on hot dogs and hamburgers. There are, however, other options that are healthier and every bit as tasty.

Because they are processed foods, hot dogs and sausages should be eaten in moderation.

While they are certainly not good for you, eating one every now and then is OK as long as you don’t go crazy.

If you are the backyard grill master, use your imagination for some leaner choices. A nice piece of steak with slight marbling or a chicken breast are perfect for grilling. Good fish choices are salmon, tuna and even shrimp.

Veggies Provide Tasty Options

Don’t forget the veggies. Nearly any vegetable can be grilled, giving it a flavor you might not have imagined. You may have to skewer them to keep them from slipping through the grill grates. With such along growing season in the South, you can usually find fresh veggies to grill well into early November.

Just a few vegetables great for grilling include corn, eggplant, peppers, onions, mushrooms, okra, squash and broccoli. And believe it or not, fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe and other melons can also be grilled. This is a great way to get more fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Impress your family and friends with your versatility. Try grilling fish, ground turkey or chicken burgers or skinless chicken breasts. Remember, the proper serving size of meat is about the size of a deck of cards. Salmon and trout have good fats that are actually healthy.

Marinating Can Add Flavor

Marinating lean meats and veggies is the best way to inject flavor and healthier fats into your foods. This can be as easy as a little olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Add a few dried or fresh herbs, mix, and you you’ve got a simple flavor boost. Simply put the meat or vegetables into a large zip-top plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Many meats can even marinate overnight in the fridge.

While barbecue sauce might be tasty, it often has a lot of salt and sugar. Look for sauces with little to no added sugar or try using a spice blend to season your food. A splash of lemon and lime can also help.

Keep Your Grill Clean

The grill and cooking utensils should obviously be cleaned before they are used. Let your grill get good and hot before cooking on it in case food from a previous cookout left some bacteria on it.

Don’t put cooked foods back on plates that previously held raw food unless the plates are thoroughly washed first.

After grilling, and while the grill is still hot, scrape down the grill grates with a stiff wire brush.

Easy Ways to Eat Healthier

Grilling is a much healthier way overall to prepare food than frying, which is very common in the South. But how you cook your food is only one small part of the puzzle.

There are few other ways you can eat healthier:

⦁ Make half of your plate non-starchy vegetables.
⦁ Enjoy three meals a day with 1-2 snacks daily. Choose protein and fiber rich snacks to keep you full longer.
⦁ Keep fruits on hand like an apple, orange, or grapes with you for a quick, healthy snack.
⦁ Drink water with meals instead of tea or soft drinks.
⦁ Eat lean proteins such as chicken, fish, beans, or pork.
⦁ Cut down on the amount of sugar. Limit desserts to once or twice a week.
⦁ Reduce salt intake by eating fewer processed food such as crackers or chips.

About Atrium Health Floyd

Since 1942, Floyd, now Atrium Health Floyd, has worked to provide affordable, accessible care in northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama. Today, Atrium Health Floyd is a leading medical provider and economic force. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care.

At the hub of these services is Floyd Medical Center, a 304-bed full-service, acute care hospital and regional referral center. Atrium Health Floyd employs more than 3,400 teammates who provide care in over 40 medical specialties at three hospitals: Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia; Floyd Cherokee Medical Center in Centre, Alabama; Floyd Polk Medical Center in Cedartown, Georgia, as well as Floyd Behavioral Health Center, a freestanding 53-bed behavioral health facility, also in Rome; and a primary care and urgent care network with locations throughout the service area of northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama.

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