Did you know that using an outdoor grill is a great way to prepare healthy meals? Grilling your foods reduces the amount of unhealthy fats and adds a delicious flavor. It's also a great way to keep your kitchen cool on a hot summer day.

Summer is in full swing and so is outdoor grilling. But did you know that using an outdoor grill is a great way to prepare healthy meals?


Grilling your foods reduces the amount of unhealthy fats and adds a delicious flavor. It's also a great way to keep your kitchen cool on a hot summer day.


Here are some helpful grilling tips for you to use this summer or anytime of the year:


1. Flavor your foods with marinades and spices to keep the fat content low. They add great flavor and keep your meat tender.


Here are some helpful tips for marinating:




Trim any visible fat from your meat.

Put your meat and marinade in a sealable plastic bag. 

Place in refrigerator.If using a marinade that contains alcohol, citric acid or salt, marinade for four hours or less. If using a marinade that contains citrus juices, marinade for two hours or less. If using a marinade that contains no alcohol, citric acid, salt or citrus juices, marinade overnight.

2. Use low-fat items, such as lean turkey patties, 90 percent lean ground beef, flank steak, skinless chicken breasts, lean pork, fish and shellfish.


3. Don't overcook your meats. Be sure to remove charred portions.


4. Grilled vegetables are healthy and taste great. Be sure to use a grill basket and pre-soaked wooden skewers.


5. Grilled fruit tastes delicious. Try peaches, pineapple or even bananas.


6. Use healthy monounsaturated fats, such as olive and canola oil.


7. Make sure to keep foods safe by discarding any marinade after use with raw meat.


8. Keep dishes with raw meats away from other foods.


9. Don't place cooked meat on the same dish where the raw meat sat.


10. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats.


11.  Cook meat to a safe internal temperature:




Chicken: Cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Pork and hamburgers: 160 degrees.

Beef and lamb: Cook just until desired doneness. For rare, 140 degrees.

Hope Danielson is a health and wellness advisor with County Market in Springfield, Ill., and a volunteer with the American Heart Association.


-- Be Healthy Springfield (Ill.)