Grilling is great, isn’t it? You get outside to cook and eat, taste a little char on your food, and can often delegate the cleanup. Let me show you how I BBQ (or roast!) for great taste and nutrition. Plus, this method is great for meal prep. Just multiply your ingredients by the number of servings you want to set aside for later in the week.
Step 1: Gather your ingredients
Protein & Veggies
Burgers are an easy default when grilling, but lately I’ve been choosing marinated chicken for my BBQ and roasting meals. It’s nice to spread out your red meat consumption (if you choose to have any), and marinating adds flavour while helping reduce some of the risk that grilling might produce some cancer-causing compounds. Don’t worry, the risk is small – about the same as using your microwave.
And of course I can’t suggest a healthy lunch or dinner meal without including plenty of vegetables. A salad would work well, but if you’re going to be using the BBQ (or oven!), so why not grill/roast some veggies, too? Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chicken (boneless & skinless breast or thighs)
- A lemon
- Fresh or dried oregano, for marinating the chicken
- Peppers (any color)
- Any other vegetable you’d like to grill
Optional fruit to grill for dessert: Pineapple, or fresh peaches
Grain/Starch & Healthy Fat
To round out the meal with a grain or starch component and some healthy fat, you could do a pita & tzatziki, or a 5-grain salad. Today, let’s toss everything together in a bowl with some pasta and pesto. Ingredients:
- Whole grain whole wheat pasta
- Prepared pesto (basil or red pepper)
Step 2: Prep
Chicken: Squeeze lemon over the chicken, and sprinkle with oregano. Allow to marinate at room temperature for up to 30 minutes as you preheat the grill or oven, or up to overnight in the fridge.
Veggies: Slice zucchini the long way, about 3 times, to form several thick slabs. Leave tomato, peppers, and mushrooms whole. If mushrooms are small, consider threading them onto skewers.
Step 3: Cook
On the Stovetop: Prepare pasta according to package directions.
On the Grill: Place chicken and vegetables directly on a preheated grill. Turn once or twice as you keep the heat moderate, and watch grill marks develop. Remove chicken to a clean plate as soon as it’s cooked through, about 15-25 minutes depending on thickness. Vegetables should soften. Bell peppers begin to collapse (turn less-cooked parts towards the heat when you turn), and tomatoes split their skin.
Or, in the Oven: Preheat oven to 400F. Place chicken and vegetables on baking sheets, using parchment paper to help with easy cleanup if desired. Place in oven for 20 minutes, then turn vegetables and check chicken. Remove chicken to a clean plate as soon as it’s cooked through. Vegetables should soften and shrink by at least 10%. As they cook, bell peppers begin to collapse, and tomatoes split their skin.
Once cooked vegetables have been allowed to cool slightly, remove the stem and seeds from the peppers.
Step 4: Assemble & Eat!
Toss pasta with a spoonful of pesto for each serving, and top with chicken and veggies (whole or chopped). Enjoy!
Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours to enjoy as a hot or cold pasta salad within the next 3-4 days.