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May 24, 2013

Kebabs: Health kick on a stick

WASHINGTON — Grilling is a simple way to feed your family well this summer. Start with a lean meat and a healthful marinade and then allow the grill to strip away additional fat for a heart-healthy and waist-friendly final result. Plus, grilling caramelizes the natural sugars in foods, which adds flavor without additional calories and fat.

With these guidelines, grilling can be a great way to prepare healthful meals:

  • Lighten up your marinade. Store-bought marinades are often high in sodium, sugar and preservatives. So, forget the bottled stuff and opt for a homemade marinade, which lets you control the sodium, sugar and oil content. You can add flavor with fresh herbs, citrus juice and pungent vegetables such as garlic, onions or shallots.
  • Select lean protein. Opt for lean or low-fat cuts of meat and poultry (and remove the skin to avoid extra fat and cholesterol). Trim the visible fat from meats and poultry before cooking. Grilling is also a great way to achieve your recommended eight ounces of seafood per week. Select seafood rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or trout. You can even go vegan on the grill and try a homemade bean or lentil-based burger.
  • Incorporate fruits and veggies. Load your grill with colorful fruits and vegetables. They are naturally cholesterol-free and packed with nutrients and fiber.

Kebabs are a perfect way to incorporate these ideas. They are fun to prepare and beautiful to look at, yet can be extremely healthful as well. Half of your plate will be filled with fruits and vegetables simply by alternating them with meat on the skewers. Plus, kebabs are an easy way to control portion size.

The accompanying simple recipe features a bold marinade that gets its flavor from fresh lime, cilantro and garlic. Plus, it has a touch of sweetness from honey to help balance out the other intense flavors. You could even add a little jalapeno pepper to the marinade for added heat.

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