The majority of us will be laying out at the pool and barbecuing this Memorial Day weekend! Afterall, isn’t that what Texans do best? While Memorial Day can be an excuse to load up on fatty meats, sugar and carbs, there are ways to make it a little healthier so that you don’t completely throw your healthy eating habits out the window!
One of the ways to make your weekend festivities a little healthier (but still tasty!) is choosing the leanest meats to grill. Eating meat doesn’t have to be unhealthy if you’re eating it in moderation and only eating certain cuts. Obviously some meats are more fatty than others so I thought I would share a list of the leanest meats you can grill instead of the typical beef burgers, bratwursts and hot dogs.
Chicken is one of the leanest animal proteins you can eat, so you really can’t go wrong when throwing chicken on the grill! However, since most of the fat on poultry is found in the skin, opt for skinless chicken breast for an even leaner option. Dark meat on chicken contains more calories and fat so avoid grilling chicken wings and thighs, however tempting that might be.
Ground turkey is a great alternative to beef patties, but only if you purchase the ground turkey “breast.” You might be wondering, what’s the difference? Most ground turkey actually has more fat and calories than some ground beef because it contains the dark meat and skin of the turkey. However, ground turkey breast doesn’t have any of that so it’s definitely the leaner version! When flavored right, turkey burgers can taste great, just don’t grill it too long, or you risk drying it out! To avoid overcooking it, mix some olive oil in the patty and cook it at a lower temp (about 165).
Bison is one of my favorite swaps for beef because it has such a rich flavor! Game meat and meat that is raised mostly on grass like bison is, tends to be lower in fat. Bison actually has more protein, iron and Vitamin B12 than some beef so it still offers a ton of nutrition!
You can grill bison steak or take ground bison and turn it into a bison burger! Keep in mind with ground bison, the meat should not be red like beef. When it’s cooked it should be clear and have an internal temperature of at least 160.
Bison can quickly become tough when grilled, so make sure to brush some olive oil on it beforehand or marinate it longer and cook it on a lower temperature. For medium rare bison steak, make sure it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145 and 160 for medium.
When most people think of pork they think of their guilty pleasure – bacon! However, some cuts of pork can be even leaner than chicken! Pork tenderloin is a great option for grilling and one of our clients’ favorites because it tastes so great and there isn’t a ring of fat around it.
A 4 oz. serving of pork tenderloin has only 120 calories and 4 grams of fat and has 22 grams of protein! We like to put a good rub on the tenderloin before throwing it on the grill. Check out our pork tenderloin recipe with blueberry BBQ sauce.
Leaner Cuts of Beef (i.e. Strip Steak, Flank Steak, etc.)
If you choose grass-fed beef (the only kind we use for our clients) it is nearly 3 times leaner than the typical grain-fed beef. A general rule of thumb is to look for the words “choice” or “select” on packages to indicate they are more lean than those labeled “prime.” The USDA considers the following lean or extra lean cuts:
- Eye of round roast and steak
- Sirloin tip side steak
- Top round roast and steak
- Bottom round roast and steak
- Top sirloin steak
The five lean cuts of beef listed above often times have other names too, so keep that in mind! Flank steak, strip steak and tenderloin roast are all lean cuts that are great for grilling.
Of course you can always throw fish and shrimp on your grill too for a very lean protein!
Are you a vegetarian, vegan or don’t eat meat? Check out our 10 Healthy Grilling Recipes (that are Meatless!).