The Benefits of Adding Grilled Vegetables to Your Menu
Grilled vegetables are a healthy and delicious way to add more flavor and nutrients to your meals. Unlike roasting or steaming, grilling allows the natural sugars in the vegetables to caramelize and produce a unique flavor that is hard to resist. Even those who claim they dislike eggplant, asparagus or Brussels sprouts find that they enjoy these vegetables off the grill. This is great news for picky eaters and parents who are looking to provide their children with healthy food options. Let’s take a look at the benefits of grilled vegetables and some tips on how to properly grill your veggies.
The Benefits of Grilled Vegetables
Nutrient preservation: Grilling is one of the best ways to preserve the vegetable’s nutrients. Boiling destroys a large portion of the essential vitamins and minerals found in most vegetables. Frying can also be unhealthy as you wind up adding unnecessary amounts of fat. Many oils also become toxic once they reach a certain temperature. Grilling is the healthiest option aside from steaming. The biggest advantage that grilled vegetables have over steamed veggies is enhanced flavor. Nothing beats the flavor of grilled peppers, onions and tomatoes.
Improved health: Adding more vegetables to your diet can go a long way in helping you prevent obesity, diabetes and a number of other serious health conditions. Green and orange peppers, for example, are rich in antioxidants. Grilled vegetables are also low in calories, which makes them an excellent choice for those who are trying to lose weight. Their high fiber count ensures that you feel full and helps to stabilize cholesterol levels.
Enhanced flavor: Grilled vegetables have a distinct smoky flavor. Many people claim to dislike vegetables because they are either void of flavor, or the flavor is much too strong. Grilling enhances the vegetable’s own unique flavors and makes them more palatable. Vegetables with strong flavors, such as onions or peppers, will become milder and sweeter after grilling.
Versatility: Grilled vegetables are completely versatile and make an excellent addition to any barbeque. They can be used either as a main dish, or they can accompany meats, fish and fruit as a side dish. Grilling up a variety of vegetables will provide your guests and loved ones with a number of options and allows them to personalize their dish.
Opt for vegetables with low water content: Vegetables with low water content, such as asparagus, onions, corn and peppers, are ideal for grilling. While eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes also taste great when grilled, they will take longer to cook because of they contain a great deal of water.
Cook your vegetables in foil: Grilled vegetables taste even better when cooked in foil. The steam keeps the veggies moist. At the same time, the heat from the grill still allows for the sugars to caramelize and produce that delicious grilled flavor. When cooking with foil, you can also skip the oils and fats. This makes the dish even healthier without sacrificing flavor.
Choose fresh vegetables: It should go without saying, but fresh vegetables work best when grilling. Frozen veggies will have more moisture and may turn to mush when grilled.
Leave skins and peels intact: Grilled vegetables taste best when peels and skin are left intact. Leaving the skin on will help the vegetable maintain its shape and stay moist while cooking.
Choose the right cut: Make sure that your vegetables are cut into thick slices to avoid overcooking and sticking. Bell peppers and tomatoes can be cut in half, while small squash and cherry tomatoes should be cooked whole. If you are worried about your vegetables falling through the grill, try cooking them in a grill basket or adding them to skewers instead.
Baste with sauce to add more flavor: If you are grilling meats along with your vegetables, you can choose to baste your veggies with the same sauce to add even more flavor. Grilled vegetables also taste delicious when brushed with a simple mixture of oil and vinegar or lemon juice.
Cook over moderate heat: For best results, grilled vegetables should be cooked over moderate heat. Generally speaking, the larger the vegetable is, the longer the cook time will be. For example, it can take more than an hour to grill a whole baking potato. While you may be tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process, you may wind up overcooking or burning your vegetables.