Only a few more days until it is officially summer, so let the grilling season begin!

Grilling can be a wonderful way to enjoy a variety of healthy foods all summer long, but stick with these tips to keep it nutritious:

1. Choose lean meats such as turkey, chicken, or bison.

Limit red meats and other processed meats in favor of leaner options such as poultry, turkey, and bison, all lower in saturated fat than traditional cuts of red meat. If you must use beef, make it leaner by mixing together ½ cup canned, drained black beans, 2 tbsp. each olive oil and Dijon mustard, and 1 tbsp. garlic powder into 1lb lean ground beef. Or, make them into smaller “sliders” for easier portion control. Also, don’t forget the fish! Salmon, herring, and trout are all great options packed with omega-3 fatty acids.

2. Flavor without the Added Salt!

Marinate or add spice blends to chicken, fish and meat to add incredible flavor with the bonus of being able to use less salt. All you need is about ½ cup of marinade or 1 TBSP of spice rub for each pound of food. Try new herbs and spices you may have never had before!

3. Try some fruit on the grill for a sweet treat.

Hard fruits such as apples, pineapples, and peaches do really well on the grill. The natural sugars caramelize in the high grilling heat – giving it an even sweeter taste than usual. The perfect replacement for a healthier dessert that even kids will love! Fruit does better at the end of the grilling session when the coals are starting to die down, so cut into uniform pieces, sprinkle with some cinnamon, and place for a few minutes on the outer edges of the rack. Or try our favorite fruit kebab recipe, here.

4. Use healthier oils in place of butter.

Brush meats and veggies with olive oil, canola oil or avocado oil – healthier oils that are rich in monounsaturated fats (the “good” kind of fats). Use in place of butter to decrease the saturated fat content in our diets to help prevent heart disease. Healthy fats keep us satisfied, making us less likely to reach for seconds.

5. Keep it simple & let the grilled flavor shine!

No need to add extra sugary or creamy sauces to your dish, let the grilled flavor shine through and keep it simple! By limiting excess high-sugar, high-sodium sauces, you’ll slash calories and fat all in one, without sacrificing taste.

6. Try Whole Grain Buns.

Making half your grains whole every day is an easy task if you switch over to 100% whole wheat buns! You add extra fiber, delicious texture, and vitamins. Need to watch your intake of carbs or calories? Try a lettuce wrap burger or an open faced sandwich!

7. Stick to the Right Portions.

Remember – the size of your protein should ideally be about the size of your palm – 3-4 ounces. Fill 1/4 of your plate with your grilled protein then fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, the more the merrier! The remaining 1/4 of the plate should be your starch or grains such as a sweet potato, brown rice, or whole wheat bun.

8. Don’t Forget the Veggies!

Make colorful vegetables the highlight of your feast – the darker the color, the more nutrients! Try eggplant, zucchini, onion, bell peppers, squash, mushrooms, asparagus, corn on the cob, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, & so much more. Simply wash and chop, brush with olive oil, sprinkle on some herbs and spices, and fire it up! Aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables.