BOZEMAN, MT--The backyard barbecue is the perfect place to be adventurous, nutritionally speaking.
"Grilled foods can be a delicious way to pump nutrients into summer meals," says Phyllis Dennee, Extension nutrition education specialist at Montana State University.
"Serving up sizzling Montana beef or your favorite lean meat with a variety of summer produce gives you a nutrition combination that can't be beat."
Lean beef, like cuts from the round or loin, provides protein, iron, zinc and other nutrients, while fruits and vegetables increase your intake of cancer-fighting phytochemicals and help in iron absorption.
Dennee and other health and nutrition professionals involved in a coalition called "Eat Right Montana" challenge Montanans to take their pioneering spirit to the grill this summer.
"Almost any fruit or vegetable can be grilled just like meats, poultry and fish," says Dennee. "Cut your favorite produce into fairly thick slices, brush with a little olive oil, and grill until tender."
A layer of cooking foil with a few holes may be necessary for softer produce like summer squash or peaches. And you can chill what's left of today's grilled goodies and add them to a bed of greens with a vinaigrette dressing for tomorrow's healthy lunch.
From the kitchen of Tara Andrews, extension agent in Custer County, come these home-tested easy-to-fix recipes to get your grilling adventure started.
And for more quick and easy tips from Eat Right Montana's Healthy Families campaign, check out http://www.montanadieteticassociation.org.
Marinades and brush-ons for just about anything. Let your imagination be your guide as you try out these seasoning options on your favorite meat or produce.
Try this versatile mixture to marinate beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or game.
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ground mustard
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves minced
In a covered jar, combine all ingredients and shake well. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Marinade beef cuts from the round for at least six hours to maximize tenderness. Loin cuts need only be marinated 15 minutes to two hours to enhance flavor. Remember, never marinate at room temperature. Marinate in the fridge in a sealed food-safe bag or dish. Never save and re-use marinade. And never serve any liquid that has touched raw meat unless it has been brought to a boil.
Five versatile brush-ons for meats and vegetablesMix 1/4 cup softened margarine or butter with one of the following combinations and brush on your choice of foods before and during cooking:
Blue Cheese Butter: Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Mix thoroughly. Fold in 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese and mix just till combined. Serve with meat or baked potatoes. Makes 1/4 cup.
Cajun Butter: Add 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed; 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin; 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed; and dash crushed red pepper. Serve with poultry. Makes 1/4 cup.
Fennel Butter: Add 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed; 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice; and dash pepper. Serve with fish. Makes 1/4 cup.
Lemon-Basil Butter: Add 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed. Serve with meat, fish, or vegetables. Makes 1/4 cup.
Parmesan Butter: Add 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese; 2 teaspoons snipped parsley; and 1 small clove garlic, minced. Serve with vegetables. Makes 1/4 cup.
Quick-to-fix summer barbecue recipes
Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken
1/2 cup honey1/3 cup soy sauce1/4 cup lime juice4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
In a resealable plastic bag or shallow glass container, combine the honey, soy sauce and lime juice; mix well. Add chicken and turn to coat. Seal or cover and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes. Drain and discard marinade. Grill chicken, uncovered, over medium heat for six to seven minutes on each side or until juices run clear.
Potato Floret Packets
5 medium red potatoes, cubed1 1/2 cup fresh broccoli florets1 1/2 cup fresh cauliflower florets1 small onion, chopped1/4 teaspoon garlic salt or garlic powder pepper to taste1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
In a bowl, combine the ingredients except cheese.
Place on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil and seal tightly. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with cheese before serving.
Honey-Lime Fruit Toss
pineapple chunks (drain juice, reserve 1/4 cup)mandarin orangessliced bananassliced strawberries Kiwi fruit1/4 cup pineapple juice1/4 teaspoon grated lime peel2 tablespoons lime juice1 tablespoon honey
Combine pineapple chunks, oranges, bananas and kiwi. Combine pineapple juice, lime peel, lime juice and honey. Toss, and enjoy!