Cart Smarts: This is how you should go 'lean' on the grill

When the temperature hit 50 degrees for the first time last week, it finally felt like spring.

At the end of my work shift, I planned to stick around and pick up our weekly groceries. Normally we do this as a family on Sunday mornings after church, but Easter weekend changed the plans.

I couldn't help but smile when I walked back to the meat counter. Everyone seemed to be thinking the same thing: Let the grilling begin! I, too, was one of those people. Warm weather triggers thoughts of burgers, brats, steak and kabobs.

As you plan the menu for your next grilling session, I encourage you to keep health in mind. Standing at the meat counter, be sure to choose lean cuts of meat in order to reduce the saturated fat content.

If you are shopping for burgers, the leanest options are the 96/4 ground beef or the 99-percent fat-free ground turkey breast. Moisture can become an issue with extra-lean ground meat, so try mixing an egg into the meat mixture. Then top with lots of juicy vegetables like fresh tomato slices, sautéed peppers and onions and a spread of mashed avocado. If you have a vegetarian in the group, try grilling a portabella mushroom as a burger substitute.


If you are shopping for steak, look for words like "loin" or "round" to be sure you are choosing a lean cut of beef. Some examples include sirloin or eye of round. But pay special attention to salt solutions in this category. This is a somewhat common practice for companies to enhance moisture and tenderness, especially with beef, chicken and pork, but unfortunately causes a major increase in sodium content. I am excited to recommend the new 100-percent natural Hy-Vee Angus Reserve line, which is not enhanced with a salt solution.

That night, my husband and I agreed on turkey brats for our lean protein. By substituting the turkey version, we saved 100 calories and 11 grams of fat but didn't sacrifice any flavor.

Other healthy protein ideas for your grill include chicken breast, pork loin, salmon or shrimp kebabs. No matter what your protein source, it is important to cook all food to the proper internal temperature to avoid food-borne illness. That means using the meat thermometer tucked away in the kitchen drawer.

To round out a healthy meal from the grill, don't forget to include whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy.

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