July 20, 2021

Handy tools for healthy outdoor grilling

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With these additions to your grilling arsenal, you can forget about the oven or the stove when the mercury’s rising.

We Americans seem to love our grilling as much as our hot dogs and apple pie. Not only does it impart foods with complex flavors, but it also lets us cook outdoors and make the most of seasonal foods. And when it’s hot and humid in the dog days of summer in the South, avoiding the hot kitchen is another reason to choose the grill over the stove.

These handy grilling tools are a few you should have in your arsenal for making healthy and delicious foods on the grill.

Grilling basket

Ideal for cooking meat, fish or vegetables on the grill, the large perforations circulate heat and add smoky flavor to food, and the sides keep small food from falling through the grates. Look for stainless steel, which will resist warping and make clean up easy. You can easily buy one for less than $20.

Recipe: Try tossing some sliced onions, red, yellow and green peppers with a small amount of olive oil and salt and pepper. Stir fry them on the grill and finish with a sqeeze of fresh lime juice for a tasty side dish to compleiment a protein such as grilled flank steak.

Cast iron skillet

A large iron skillet on the grill is versatile enough for everything from a breakfast casserole (think campfire coals!) to paella to cornbread. Be sure to get the skillet nice and hot before adding food, which can take a few minutes. Once it is hot, it will give you a high-heat surface which will give everything a crisp, seared exterior and great flavor.

A cast iron skillet, if treated right, will last you forever. And, it will make a smooth transition back to the oven when grilling season is over, proving that it is not only versatile, but truly a worth-the-money piece of cookware at about $30.

To clean your iron skillet, use hot water and a firm scrub brush (no soap). After scrubbing and rinsing, dry very well with a paper towel. Water left on cast iron causes rust. Then, drizzle in about a teaspoon of oil and spread it all around (inside and out, plus the handle) with a paper towel. For stubborn grease or stuck on food, pour about ¼ cup of coarse salt in the pan to loosen the food before the steps above.

Recipe idea: Use your iron skillet on the grill for this delicious recipe for braised green beans and summer vegetables.

Skewers

Whether wooden or stainless steel, skewers are a simple and inexpensive grill tool that is ideal for cooking cubed meat, shrimp, vegetables or even fruits such as pineapple or peaches. Although food-styled magazine images usually show a variety of items on each skewer, it is recommended that you skewer each food separately. This allows you to customize cooking times, which can vary.

If you are planning to use wooden skewers, soak them in water for 15-30 minutes before using them so they don’t burn. You can also keep them in a bag in the freeze after soaking them and pull them out when you need them, for a faster turnaround time. Skewers range in price, with the wooden ones being the cheapest, but consider investing the $10 in the stainless steel option — they will last for years.

Recipe idea: For an easy and healthy dessert, skewer sliced pineapple and brush it with a mixture of honey, orange juice and cinnamon. Grill it until the fruit softens and gets slightly caramelized, with some pretty grill marks. Serve it alone or with some low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt. Get more grilled fruit ideas, including a refreshing honey lime banana recipe on My Southern Health here.

Pizza pan with holes

For delicious homemade pizza on the grill, a pizza pan with holes is essential. The holes are what helps the heat transfers directly to the crust, making it crispy and giving it that deliciously smoky flavor. Most are non-stick, so a quick coating of cooking spray and some corn meal and you are good to go. Be sure to turn the pan a few times as the pizza cooks to ensure the heat is evenly distributed on the bottom.

Consider buying a few of these handy pans for warm-weather pizza parties. Although designed for pizza, these handy pans also can double for the grill pan described above. For approximately $15 you can expect to find the larger, 15-inch size.

Recipe idea: For a healthy grilled pizza that can be personalized to your taste, follow these steps and you can forget about delivered pizza for good — and keep your kitchen nice and cool.