July 3, 2009

Grill more fruit, vegetables, less meat

A U.S. nutrition expert suggests grilling some vegetables and fruits for Fourth of July family barbecues.

Dietitian Vicki Piper of The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston encourages those doing cookouts to grill plenty of fruits and vegetables -- and less meat. Diets high in plant foods can lower the chances of developing several cancers, including breast and colon cancers, Piper says.

You can still have a barbecue without letting your health go up in flames, Piper said in a statement. Aim for a meal made up of two-thirds vegetables, fruits, whole grains or beans, and one-third animal protein.

A light brushing of canola or olive oil on vegetables and fruits helps prevent sticking to the grill and sprinkle vegetables with pepper, a small amount of salt and vinegar to bring out their taste, Piper advises.

Non-stick grates, foil packets, or a grilling basket lightly coated with oil can be helpful when grilling plant-based foods, Piper says.

As a general rule, don't peel vegetables before grilling. You'll get more nutrients and enjoy a smokier flavor if they aren't peeled, Piper says. Try a new vegetable every week, one that you have not tried in many years. My family favorites are grilled onions, zucchini, asparagus and pineapple.