GrillJunkie – Addiction to Grilling-What Fires YOU Up?

Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips

healthy grilling recipes, grilled caprese chicken

Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips

As the GrillJunkie team fires up a new year and attempts to shed a few pounds from a bit of overindulgence during the holidays, we’ve pulled together some great Healthy Grilling Recipes and tips that we hope you enjoy. It is no secret that we fire up the grill because it is our addiction, but mostly we grill and BBQ because it is fun and produces food drenched in unique flavors as compared to most other methods of cooking. You’ll find that most anything that hits the grill is going to be delicious and the fact that there are so many options for seasonings and ingredients to enjoy with family and friends that the possibilities are endless. But grilling is both art and science. If done improperly, or irresponsibly for that matter, you could be creating undercooked or overcooked meals. As such we lay out a few Healthy Grilling Recipes and tips that address some recent research on safe and flavorful grilling. Try some of these ideas for great food grilled healthy.

healthy grilling recipesThere are countless ways you can turn your grilling into not only a flavorful and fun way to cook, but also into a healthy way to eat. By choosing foods that are low in fat, high in nutrients and full of flavor you can create great meals that are also healthy. By introducing marinades into your grilling routine not only adds extra flavor but also reduces the formation of cancer causing substances on foods. As an example, using a marinade containing olive oil and/or citrus juice can reduce the formation of these chemicals by as much as 99%. As an added benefit, marinades tenderize meats which creates an easier to grill and much better meal.

As of late, there has been a lot of discussion and research related to, some would say even targeting, grilling and cancer. That is one of our main inspirations for writing about Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips. While the risk is real as with any foods that are not prepared correctly, undercook, overcooked or charred, keep this in mind, there are some simple things you can do to greatly reduce the cancer risk. The two primary substances, for those interested are: Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH). They are known cancer causing agents so you need to reduce their formation as much as you can. Simply explained, these chemicals are formed by putting food, primarily meats in direct contact with intense heat and flame.  Now grilling isn’t the only cooking method that may cause these agents, it’s really a matter of how to grill and cook your food properly, and as such there isn’t a reason for you to give up on your grill.Basil-Swee-Basil-and-Tomato1

In recent years, scientists at the Food Safety Consortium project at Kansas State University have discovered that herbs of the Lamiaceae family (Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Sage) used in marinades reduced HCA formation dramatically. This is very good news and an excellent reason to grill with more flavor. Specifically, these herbal antioxidants reduce the formation of undesirable free radicals when meat hits heat.

HCAs and PAHs are formed mostly from fat. Either by fat being heated to extreme temperatures or by the smoke created by fat burning. For the most part this applies to meat fats and not just the grease and fat from what you are cooking but the build up from the bottom of your grill. To reduce the risks follow these basic tips:

  • Use marinades based citrus juices and/or olive oils. This is the number one way to stay safe.
  • Avoid flare-ups. Flare-ups burn foods and this increase HCA formation.
  • Keep your grill clean. A clean grill not only cooks better but it is safer in may ways. See our post on cleaning a grill.
  • Trim excess fats. A little fat can add a lot of flavor so keep it to a minimum.
  • Don’t overcook foods. The charred bits on foods are the largest sources of PAHs and HCAs so if you have charred sections of meat cut them off.
  • Use herbs like Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Sage to add flavor and reduce HCA formation in foods.

If you follow these Healthy Grilling Tips not only will you greatly reduce the risk of these cancer agents but you will reduce the fat in meats that you grill. Of course grilling is a superb way to reduce fat, but these tips from the GrillJunkie team take it even farther. If you purchase lean cuts, use light marinades and serve up your grilled foods with proportionate fruits and vegetables then you will really be grilling healthy. We hope you enjoy our Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips!

 Healthy Grilling Recipes: Grilled Caprese Chicken

This is a Caprese lovers treat. Marinated with the unmistakably earthy taste and aroma of basil and citrus-drenched lemon, the chicken is taken to the grill, then topped with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and a balsamic reduction. A truly healthy and delicious meal for any day of the week.healthy grilling recipes, grilled caprese chicken

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup/80 mL olive oil
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 large leaves of basil
  • 1 teaspoon/5 mL sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon/1.25 mL white pepper
  • 3/4 cup/180 mL balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices of mozzarella cheese, 1/2 inch thick
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 leaves basil, chopped for garnish

Prep Time:20 minutes – Cook Time:22 minutes – Total Time:42 minutes – Yield: Serves 4


  1. Place olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, basil, salt, and white pepper in blender or food processor. Blend until mixture is pureed. Place chicken breasts in resealable plastic bag, pour mixture over chicken, making sure that each piece is coated well. Seal bag and place into refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  2. While chicken in marinating, make the balsamic reduction. Place vinegar into a saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 8-10 minutes. The balsamic reduction should have a thick, syrupy consistency. Once this is achieved, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Preheat grill for medium heat. Remove chicken from bag and place onto grill. Cook for 8-10 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Toward the end of the cooking time, place a slice of mozzarella and 1-2 slices of tomato on each breast. Cook for 2 additional minutes. Chicken is done once it reaches an internal temperature of 165° F. Remove from heat and garnish with reduced balsamic and chopped basil leaves before serving.

Sage & Cumin Pork Tenderloin: Healthy Grilling Recipes

A unique blend of sage, cumin, and other spices are used in this recipe. Although we continue the grilling versus charcoal debate, we recommend grilling this recipe over charcoal, but gas works just as well. If desired, double the marinade recipe and set half aside for brushing onto the pork while it’s cooking.

healthy grilling grilled pork tenderloin healthy recipes for the grillIngredients

    • 2 medium sized pork tenderloins
    • 1/3 cup/80 mL olive oil
    • 1 shallot, chopped
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tablespoons/30 mL white cooking wine
    • 3 leaves of fresh sage
    • 1 teaspoon/5 mL cumin
    • 1 teaspoon/5 mL salt
    • 1 teaspoon/5 mL paprika
    • 1/4 teaspoon/1.25 mL white pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon/1.25 mL cayenne pepper (optional)

Prep Time:10 minutes – Cook Time:45 minutes – Total Time:55 minutes – Yield: Serves 4 to 6


  1. In blender or food processor, blend marinade ingredients. Place tenderloins into resealable plastic bag. Pour mixture onto pork, making sure it is well coated (this will create a very thick marinade), seal bags and place into refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  2. Prepare charcoal grill or if using gas, preheat to medium. Remove tenderloins from bag and place onto grill. Cook, turning occasionally, for 35-45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165° F.
  3. Remove from heat, let rest for 5 minutes, slice into medallions and serve.

In addition to the Healthy Grilling Recipes we list above, try our Grilled Tuna Kebabs, Luscious Grilled Pears and Havarti and our Grilled Pineapple Upside Down Cake!

For you steak lovers, we encourage you to read the article entitled “31 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Steak“. We believe it will Fire You Up!

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What are your thoughts on this Healthy Grilling Recipes & Tips post? What Fires YOU Up? We welcome your comments, healthy debate, and the inevitable disagreement. Leave a reply or comment. It’s OK. Bring it on!

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