A Simple Guide to Grilling Vegetables for the Family Grilling season is here! Fire up the BBQ and introduce your family to some of these killer vegetable dishes below. BY CHERYL TALLMAN
Family, fire and food, what more do you need during the summer?
“ Turn off the stove and use your BBQ grill to give your vegetables summer fresh flavor! Aside from the great grilled flavor the vegetables get, they are super easy to cook.”
Vegetables taste delicious are a great source of vitamins and nutrients, and they're low in fat and salt. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends half your plate be filled with vegetables and fruits; and summertime is a terrific season to cook up a nice variety of veggies. Take advantage of this time of the year to introduce your family to some great new flavors. Here are a few guiding tips for our summertime grill.
Vary Your Veggies
Vegetables of different colors and textures have different tastes, vitamins and nutrients. To get the biggest healthy benefit from vegetables, it’s best to eat a good variety. As a general rule, vegetables of different colors contain different vitamins—so serve a rainbow of colors at meals to take advantage of all the nutrition that vegetables have to offer.
Set a Good Example
Your children learn from you and aspire to be just like you. One of the best ways you can influence your child’s eating habits is to have good ones yourself. Make eating a variety of vegetables a family experience that everyone can enjoy.
How Many Vegetables Does Your Child Need?
Children 2-8 years old should have at least 1/4 cup of vegetables 4 to 6 times per day.
How Many Vegetables Are In a Cup?
Here are some examples of 1/4 cup portion of vegetables:
3 asparagus spears
1/3 ear of corn on the cob
1/2 a medium carrot or a 4 baby carrots
1/4 large sweet potato
1/4 medium white potato
1/2 cup raw leafy green vegetables
Your Guide to Grilling Vegetables
Turn off the stove and use your BBQ grill to give your vegetables summer fresh flavor! Aside from the great grilled flavor the vegetables get, they are super easy to cook. Here are a few tips for veggie grilling success:
Invest In a BBQ Grill Basket
You’ll find this item in the BBQ accessory section at home improvement stores for about $15-$20. A grill basket is specially designed for the BBQ. It will save time and make grilling vegetables foolproof. It will eliminate the need for skewers and your veggies won’t fall through the cracks of the grill. Simply add your vegetables to the basket and grill away. To grill evenly and prevent charring, use BBQ tongs to move the vegetables around in the basket while they’re cooking.
Choosing Your Vegetables to Grill
Asparagus to zucchini… nearly all vegetables taste great off the BBQ. Here are a few of our favorites along with the recommended prep for a grill basket:
* Asparagus: Prep - whole * Corn on the cob: Prep - cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces * Eggplant: Prep - sliced into 1/4 to 1/2-inch rounds * Green Beans: Prep - whole * Mushrooms, button, portabellas, and shitakes: Prep - whole * Onions, Red of Vidalia: Prep - cut into wedges * Potatoes: Prep - 1 to 2-inch chunks or small whole potatoes, parboiled for 10 minutes * Red or Green Bell Peppers: Prep - sliced in 1-inch pieces
* Sweet Potatoes : Prep - sliced into 1/4 to 1/2-inch circles * Tomatoes: Prep - cut large ones in or chunks, leave grape or cherry tomatoes whole * Zucchini: Prep - cut into 1/2 to 1-inch circles
Basic Cooking Instructions
In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Place the vegetables in a grill basket of over a hot BBQ. To cook evenly and prevent charring, use BBQ tongs to move the vegetables around in the basket while they’re cooking. Most vegetables will cook in less than 10 minutes. When they have a grilled look and softer texture, remove them from the grill—they are done.
For the Baby
Grilled vegetables can be pureed in a blender or food processor after they are taken off the grill.
Grilled vegetables are great served simply with olive oil, salt and pepper. However, if you’d like to add an extra zip of flavor, toss in some of these with your grilled vegetables after cooking. Here are a few flavor splash ideas:
* Lime Juice, fresh chopped cilantro and sugar * Lemon juice and fresh chopped dill * Balsamic vinegar and fresh chopped basil * Hoisin sauce and fresh chopped green onions * Italian salad dressing (oil-based)
To make the flavor splash: Combine about 1 Tablespoon of each ingredient in a bowl. Drizzle over the grilled vegetables.
Cheryl Tallman is the founder of Fresh Baby (www.FreshBaby.com). For more than 10 years, Fresh Baby helped has helped parents foster their children’s healthy eating habits and proactively respond to the childhood obesity epidemic that plagues our nation. Cheryl is the author and designer of the company’s award-winning cookbooks and nutrition education products that support many stages of family life including: pregnancy, breastfeeding, introducing solid foods, and feeding toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children.