Looking for low-calorie foods to grill this summer? We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite low-calorie foods to grill in this post.
French baguettes for bruschetta
Hands down, our favorite summer appetizer is bruschetta. Who doesn’t love these crunchy, heavenly bites made with fresh tomatoes, basil and thin slices of French baguette toasted on the grill. We just purchase a pre-made loaf, slice at an angle, and brush with a tiny amount of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). If you’re watching calories, you can also skip the EVOO and just put the bread directly on the grill over high heat. When one side is a bit blackened, flip the baguette slice with tongs and toast the other side until it’s blackened, too.
Once both sides are crisp, remove from the grill and top with your favorite bruschetta toppings. We learned through our cooking class with The Chef and the Dish to rub a fresh garlic clove right onto the toasted bread. Then we top that with a mixture of diced cherry tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and a little EVOO (optional). We also add a large piece of shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese at the end. It’s truly a perfect summer appetizer.
PRO TIP: Once the bread begins to toast, it can burn easily, so keep an eye on it. No need to close the lid for this one.
Salmon filets are low-calorie foods to grill
Salmon is a great protein option during the summer when you want something a little lighter than a beef steak. To grill a salmon filet, I first let it come to room temperature and then brush or spray with a little EVOO. Then, I place it skin side down on a plate and lightly sprinkle it with salt and pepper. If I have fresh dill weed, I put a few sprigs of that on top or I just sprinkle on a little dried dill. Finally, I place two or three lemon wheels on top of that. Grill skin side down directly over medium-high heat for about 8 minutes or until cooked through.
We love to serve grilled salmon with a cold Greek orzo salad and grilled mixed vegetables. It is also delicious with brown rice and grilled asparagus.
PRO TIP: Do not flip the filet and grill both sides. Leave it skin side down the whole time.
Low-calorie grilled potatoes
For years, we thought the only way to grill potatoes was in aluminum foil with onions and lots of butter. Then, we started eating healthier and trying to lose weight (read more about that HERE). During that time, we wanted to find a way to enjoy potatoes without all the oil, and we did! We found we can lightly oil thin slices of our favorite spuds and grill them in a basket. They come out crisp and delicious but have far fewer calories.
To make our grill potatoes, we just wash and then slice a few Russets (our any other potato) on a mandolin. Then, we put them in a microwavable steamer with a little water and steam them for a few minutes (about one minute per potato). Next, we drain the water and add a small amount of EVOO spray to the bowl. We mix that around until the potatoes are all lightly coated. Then, we add our favorite seasonings to the potatoes and mix those around. We’ve found that salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little cayenne work great. Or, use your favorite seasoning mix (we love picking these up on our travels).
Finally, lay the potatoes flat (separating any slices that are stuck together) on a grill pan. Cook them on a medium high grill for about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes. We grill them until they’re golden brown (and maybe a little blackened), crisp on the outside and steamy and soft on the inside. These go great with a burger and beer on a hot summer’s day.
PRO TIP: Be sure to flip the potatoes often during the grilling process so they cook evenly and don’t burn.
PIN FOR LATER
Vegetables are a low-calorie food to grill
We use a grill basket almost every night for grilling whatever vegetables we have in our fridge. Each summer, we grill a lot of red, orange, yellow and green bell peppers. We also enjoy grilling onions, mushrooms, asparagus, yellow squash, and zucchini. For our grilled veggies, we cut them up in small pieces (about 2″ x 2″) and put them in a mixing bowl. We add a few spritzes of EVOO spray (you can use a couple of teaspoons of straight oil, as well) and mix that around until all the veggies are lightly coated.
Then, we add one of our favorite seasonings like the Kusina Gold Greek Seasoning we found at a Farmer’s Market in Clear Lake, Iowa. We cook our vegetables directly over a medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes. Make sure to turn them every couple of minutes and cook until they start to get a little blackened. The asparagus and mushrooms don’t take quite that long to cook, so we add those about five minutes after starting the others.
PROT TIP: Don’t use too much oil or your veggies will lose their crunch and get soggy.
Key West Chicken
We’ve been grilling this tangy chicken for years and it is always a favorite of family as well as guests. We marinade boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or you can use breasts) for several hours before grill time to bring out the Caribbean flavors. We usually serve our Key West Chicken with a southwest salad (romaine, peppers, green onions, black beans, corn, and an avocado/lime dressing) as well as brown rice or homemade bread.
Here’s the recipe for our Key West Grilled Chicken. If you make this recipe, be sure to post a photo on social media and tag us @PostcardJar.
Key West Grilled Chicken
- Small mixing bowl
- Wire whisk
- Gallon ziplock bag
- Grill Tongs/spatula
- Measuring cups and spoons
- 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 lime, zest and juice
- 1½ tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
- 1 tbsp chopped cilantro fresh
- Small chicken breasts (4) or boneless/skinless chicken thighs (8-10)
- For the marinade: In the small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until the honey is fully incorporated.
- Place raw chicken into Ziploc bag and fold edge of the bag outward and down to help keep the bag open.
- Pour all of the marinade into the bag and then unfold the edges and seal the bag completely making sure to remove as much air as possible.
- Gently squeeze the bag to incorporate marinade around each piece of chicken.
- Place in shallow bowl and refrigerate 2-6 hours.
- When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Remove chicken from the bag and grill directly over the medium-high heat.
- After 5-7 minutes, turn the chicken over. It should release fairly easily from the grate. If not, give it another minute or two.
- Grill on the second side 5-7 minutes or until done.
- Remove from grill, and enjoy!
Peaches for dessert (with ice cream)
One of our favorite summertime desserts has to be grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream. It’s a perfect dessert when you’re entertaining guests, as it is quick, easy and everyone seems to love it. Plus, this refreshing dessert reminds us of delicious peach cobbler or even a peach pie but without all the calories.
To make this dessert, just cut the peaches in half and remove the pit. I like to use a grapefruit spoon to gently cut around the pit and not destroy the shape of the peach. Lightly brush the peach with vegetable or olive oil and place flat side down on a medium-high grill. Grill for five to seven minutes on one side or until the peach begins to caramelize. Then carefully flip and grill on the rounded side for another two minutes or until heated through. Serve in a small bowl with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We also make a simple sauce of honey and cinnamon mixed together and heated in the microwave for just a few seconds. Drizzle the sauce over both the peach and ice cream, then savor every bite!
PRO TIP: It’s best to spray your grill grates with a grill spray before placing the peaches directly on the grill.
Steak is our favorite to grill (but no so low-calorie)
We actually considered leaving steak off this list, but realized that as Nebraskans we couldn’t do that. Plus, it may well be our favorite summertime food to grill. Prepared properly, a steak can be an incredible treat.
To cook a steak, we take the meat out of the fridge about an hour before we want to grill it. Lightly coat each side with grape seed oil. We use grape seed oil because it has a higher smoke point and won’t leave the meat tasting burned. Next, season the meat. We like the Robust Ribeye seasoning we found at Osceola Cheese on a trip through Missouri. That said, you can also use salt, pepper, and garlic powder or find another seasoning you like. We then cover the meat with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for an hour so that it comes up to room temperature.
Grill the steak
We put the steak directly on high heat and let it sear for a minute or two, then flip the steak over, reduce heat to medium-high, and grill for a couple more minutes. While many folks swear by flipping a steak only once, we like to flip it about three times. By flipping it roughly every two to three minutes we can make sure it’s cooking evenly. To us, a steak is perfectly done when it’s medium rare (internal temperature of about 130-135 degrees F).
PRO TIP: Be sure to rest the meat for a few minutes before serving. We usually move the steak to a plate or platter for five minutes or so before serving. While the steak rests, the internal juices are redistributing in the meat and the steak continues to rise during this period. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take the steak off a little below your desired temperature.
There you have it – our list of favorite foods to grill in the summer. What are some of your favorites?