Healthy Grilled Alternatives for Hamburgers and Hot Dogs

With Labor Day on the horizon and plenty of end-of-summer barbecue invitations in the mail, you’re probably looking forward to at least one delicious grilled meal in the next few weeks. Many barbecues feature American staples like hamburgers and hot dogs, but those aren’t the only options you have, especially if you’re focused on healthy eating. Skip the burgers and dogs and grill up some of these tasty alternatives instead.

Grilled vegetable platter
Veggies always make great side dishes, and tossing them on the grill helps bring out their sweet flavors. Taste of Home magazine recommended marinating your favorite seasonal vegetables in a mixture of olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, oregano, garlic powder, salt and pepper for an easy flavor upgrade. Let them marinate for an hour or two at room temperature, then place on a grilling grid and put it on the grill. Cook for 8 to 12 minutes, turning the veggies every so often.

Grilled eggplant
According to Health magazine, grilled eggplant is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, and cooking it this way doesn’t have nearly as many calories as when it’s breaded and served with cheese and marinara sauce. Just cut the eggplant into 1-inch thick slices and coat each side with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put them on the grill rack and cook 6 minutes per side. You can eat the eggplant as is or add it to a whole-wheat wrap with some hummus for a satisfying lunch.

Grilled corn
Grilling corn is a lot easier to make than you might think. For a healthy take on Mexican street corn, Health recommended simply brushing the ears of corn with olive oil, then grilling them for about 12 minutes, turning them a few times. When they're done, brush on a mixture of lime juice, olive oil and cayenne pepper. To top it off, crumble queso fresco on top along with some fresh cilantro.

Grilled mushrooms
Grilled portobellos are a great option for vegetarians who need an easy alternative to burgers or ribs. You can serve them topped with mixed veggies or even substitute them for a hamburger patty to make an easy veggie burger. Martha Stewart Whole Living suggested marinating the tops of the mushrooms in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Grill for about 10 minutes on each side.

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