May kicks off grilling season in the US. There’s nothing quite like preparing a meal outside to enjoy in the fresh air. In fact, 64% of US households own at least one outdoor barbecue, grill, or smoker.
To prepare for a delicious BBQ season, below are tips on grilling summer vegetables and fruits and motivations to do so. We’ve also included barbecued strawberry recipes- yes, strawberries can be roasted on your grill!
Benefits of Grilling
For anyone looking for ideas on how to add more fruits and vegetables to their plates this year, new ways to prepare them may help. We often think of eating fruits raw and veggies as either fresh, boiled, or roasted. However, both can be grilled!
Grilled veggies and fruit are a new way for many people to enjoy more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Grilling can provide fruits and veggies with new flavors, textures, colors, and health benefits.
New Flavors and Textures
Preparing food in a new way can change a picky person’s perception of it. For instance, lettuce in a salad may lack appeal, but incorporating smoky flavors by grilling a head of romaine may become a new favorite. Cooking fruits and veggies can also remove some of the moisture and caramelize the sugars, presenting a sweeter taste and crunchier texture.
The look of grilled fruits and veggies can also be fun. We eat with our eyes- the way food looks is as important as how it tastes. The barbecue can leave beautiful grill marks that contrast with the bright colors of the fruits and vegetables. Grilling can offer a whole new category of photo-worthy dishes!
Do fruits and vegetables lose their nutrients when cooked? Not usually, but it depends on a few factors. The food in question, the specific nutrient, and the cooking method all determine whether a fruit or vegetable loses or gains nutritional value when it’s heated.
A review in the International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science explains that veggies like onions, spinach, asparagus, beans, carrots, celery, mushrooms, potatoes, and tomatoes are more nutritious when cooked. Nutrients including calcium, lycopene, beta-carotene, and lutein become more available to the body when heat is applied during food prep. Other nutrients like water-soluble B and C vitamins are more available when they’re consumed from a raw fruit or vegetable.
Variety is key. Preparing a variety of fruits and vegetables in a variety of ways will ensure that over time the body absorbs sufficient vitamins, minerals, and healthy phytonutrients.
How to Grill Vegetables and Fruits
Here are simple tips on how to grill vegetables and fruits on your barbecue:
- Cut your slices into roughly the same size. This helps the pieces cook evenly and finish grilling at the same time.
- Put all of your sliced fruits and veggies on a large sheet of foil. Follow a recipe or season with herbs, spices, olive oil, or balsamic vinegar. Fold the foil over the food and seal the edges so nothing can fall out. Place the foil on the top grill rack and check every 10 minutes or so.
- If you have one, you can also add your seasoned sliced fruits and veggies to a grill basket and then place it directly on the grill. Flip or toss the food occasionally so all sides can caramelize.
- Add fruit or veggie slices to a skewer and place on the top grill rack to prevent charring. If any pieces do get charred, cut the blackened section off and discard.
Grilled Strawberry Recipes
Wow family and friends with a strawberry barbecue this summer. Below is a recipe for an appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert. Each has a hint of smokiness and sweetness from the grilled strawberries.