The weather is improving and I don’t feel like being trapped in a hot kitchen on a beautiful spring night.  Grilling to the rescue.  No longer the domain of men, firing up the grill is for everyone.  This cooking method can help you save time and money, not to mention delivering a healthy meal to the table.

Why grill?

  • Get outside.  Spending time outdoors is a stress reliever, plus it allows you to get your Vitamin D from the sunshine.
  • Improve your health. If you season or marinate properly, you can avoid adding unnecessary fat to proteins and veggies.  For vegetables, usually a quick brush of olive oil will do the trick.  When I grill fish, I use nonstick cooking spray to minimize fat and avoid sticking.
  • Save money.  Grilling outside means you don’t use the oven or stove in your house which reduces your utility bill.
  • Save time.  Grilling can save time in a variety of ways.  Because grilling brings out the natural flavor in food, you don’t have to prepare sauces or organize a lot of ingredients, and that reduces prep time.  Another benefit is easy clean up.  No pots and pans in the sink, just a quick scrub over the grate.  Lastly, many meats and vegetables can be cooked in less than 30 minutes.  This makes grilling an ideal method for time-crunched families.

What type of grill?

There are two types of grills:  gas and charcoal.  The consensus is that cooking with charcoal adds a smoky flavor, but a gas grill saves time by allowing you to flip a switch for a flame.  If you are looking forward to quick, easy dinners on the grill, a gas grill is your best bet.   While you could spend a lot of money on a deluxe model, you can find some available for under $100.

Grilling methods

Now that we’ve determined gas is the fastest grill to put food on the table, you can choose between two cooking methods, direct and indirect.   For direct grilling, place your protein directly above the heat source.  A good rule of thumb is to stick to meats that are less than two inches thick for the direct method.  If you don’t, you’ll end up charring your meat before it’s done.  Some proteins for direct grilling are:

  • Steaks
  • Hamburgers
  • Hot Dogs
  • Sausage
  • Pork Chops
  • Fish
  • Shrimp

Indirect grilling takes longer, but is appropriate for larger or thicker cuts of meat.  For more information on cooking times on the grill, see the chart at Bella Online.

Don’t Forget the Vegetables

Grilled vegetables are a favorite because the cooking method highlights their natural flavor.  Simply brush some olive oil on asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, halved tomatoes, or any vegetable in season, and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Place them in a grill pan – or on the grate if you prefer grill marks – and cook no more than 5 minutes over indirect heat.  Women’s Health has some great ideas for additional vegetables to grill.

You’re Ready to Go

Now that you have your grill type and cooking method, you need some good recipes to get started.

Tomorrow, we’ll feature a recipe for the perfect juicy rib eye steak.

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