Member's Voice Blog

Member's Voice Blog

Grilling Lightened Up on Fat, but Heavy on Flavor!

June 20, 2012 By: Monyka Berrocosa

Monyka Berrocosa

Recently, Lynne Brick and I kicked off the local Go Red – Heart Health and Awareness campaign for the local chapter of the American Heart Association. We were part of the Executive Leadership team that helped raise almost $200,000 for Heart Health and Awareness in women. All this focus on heart healthiness got me thinking that along with moving more and working out, what my family and I were eating would perhaps benefit from a bit of an adjustment as well. Indeed the time had come to revisit some of my favorite backyard BBQ recipes and make a few “heart healthy” revisions, substitutions and changes to keep the flavor high, but lower the fat and increase the health benefits.

With that in mind, here are a few of the summer heart healthy grilling tricks I’ve incorporated into our summer meal routine include:


  • Substituting heavy mayo and sour cream dressings with low-fat or non-fat Ranch dressings when it comes to making side salad favorites like potato, macaroni or slaw.
  • Marinating meats and fish in low-fat Italian dressing versus heavier marinades with more oil.
  • Making lots of big summer salads topped with grilled protein as a main meal that’s both easy and delicious – salmon and chicken are family favorites. This replaces a big steak and baked potato with small side salad.
  • For desserts – offering a selection of sorbets and fresh fruit instead of traditional ice cream and toppings.

An added byproduct of lightening up my menu has not just been my clothes fitting better, but me feeling overall better as well. Whereas I used to suffer frequently from indigestion and heart burn, I’ve found when I eat lighter (meaning less fatty foods, less red meat and more vegetables and fruits), I feel better, which is a good thing! Summer was always a time to indulge in hamburgers and ice cream, but with the following two recipes (see below), I’ve found I don’t crave those high fat, less healthy options quite so much. The kids like them too which is an even bigger bonus.


If you do try the recipes, let me know how you like them. Meanwhile keep moving, take good care of yourself and enjoy summer!

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers


  • 4 portobello mushroom caps
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Low Fat Whole Wheat burger buns


  • Place the mushroom caps, smooth side up, in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper. Pour over the mushrooms. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes or so, turning twice.
  • Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
  • Brush grate with oil. Place mushrooms on the grill, reserving marinade for basting. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until tender. Brush with marinade frequently. During the last two minutes of grilling put split side down on the grill for two minutes to get a little crispy. Top with caps and add your favorite low fat toppings for a healthy, meaty tasting but heart healthy treat!  (Recipe adapted from

Low Fat / High Flavor Grilled Fruit kabobs


  • 1 TBS of butter
  • 3 TBS of honey
  • 3 fresh peaches, pitted and quartered
  • 3 fresh plums, pitted and quartered
  • 3 bananas, cut into 4 pieces each
  • 12 strawberries, hulled
  • 12 skewers


  • Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, make sure grill is clean and brushed well to remove other grilled food flavors.
  • While grill heats, thread a peach quarter, a plum quarter, a banana piece, and a strawberry onto each skewer. Place the skewers onto clean grill area.
  • Grill until the fruit is softened and the sauce has thickened and cooked onto the fruit, about 5 minutes. Flip the skewers, and grill another up to 5 minutes making sure fruit doesn’t burn. When done remove and place on a platter. In a microwave combine the juice of one lime with 2 TBS of honey – microwave for 2 minutes and stir, drizzle on top of fruit skewers.

Dark Chocolate variation….

  • Melt ½ cup of dark chocolate chips on low heat in the microwave
  • When ready drizzle over fruit skewers just removed from the grill.


Posted by Monyka Berrocosa on June 20, 2012

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