08 Jul 2011

Healthy Summer Grilling

Photo Credit: Joshua Bousel

My wife and I love to grill in the summer. It’s fast, easy and one of the healthier, more environmentally responsible ways to cook.

Healthy, environmentally responsible?…Aren’t we talking about hotdogs and hamburgers? No, not even close. Though we packed this past 4th of July weekend full with kayaking, parade watching and other kid-friendly activities (I have two young boys),we ended the day with Moroccan chicken skewers that we grilled in 15 minutes and served with a curried-yogurt dipping sauce.

In all honesty, I’m pretty new to this, but what I’m finding is that eating well not only with our health but the planet in mind is really quite easy. It starts with making good food choices. For the chicken, I consulted NRDC Smarter Living to find out what to ponder when picking poultry. Whenever I can, I choose USDA Certified Organic chicken, which fortunately can be found in most grocery stores. Then I know the chicken was raised without hormones or antibiotics.

I set the chicken to marinate (in the ‘fridge) early in the day and we headed out to watch the parade. On our way home, we stopped off at a farm stand to get the veggies. This sort of food shopping is great with kids or grandkids. The stand was right along side the field from which the corn we bought had just been picked. I made a mental note to take the kids another day – one less packed – to a pick-your-own farm. What a great way for them to learn where our food comes from and the importance of knowing how its grown. A great tool to learn about what’s in season and where the farmers’ markets are near you is called “Eat Local” and can be found here.

But evening was coming so home we went to dinner and the grill.

I was a charcoal “purist” until recently. But when my little kettle grill had just about rusted through (it’s hard to get me to replace something until it is worn out), I opted for a propane gas grill, not realizing how efficient it was. As it turns out I spend at least 75% less on fuel per meal with gas. And it’s cleaner. In fact, according to NRDC propane is the cleanest, most energy efficient fuel for grilling.

By the time we had everything ready, it was a bit buggy out, so we opted to eat inside. No one complained, as the house was cool and comfortable, since a benefit of grilling is that we don’t have to turn on the oven or use the stove. Although we have a window air conditioning unit that’s perfect for our space, we rarely turn it on, applying instead the passive house-cooling methods we learned from NRDC Smarter Living.

I’m pretty new to grilling as I mentioned, and to thinking about the right foods to eat and to feed my young family. But we all really enjoyed our dinner of fresh corn and Moroccan chicken and knowing that with this meal – in our choice of ingredients and how we prepared them – we left a lighter footprint on the planet.



  1. Beverly Tappan Says: July 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Would appreciate print ready options for these articles to post on our Environment Committee bulletin board.

    • Great idea, Beverly. I’ve added “Print” and “PDF” buttons to the bottom of every article, and they should help you get printable versions for your bulletin board. Please let us know what you think.

  2. You’re absolutely right — organic chicken, gas grill, local farmer’s markets… Perfect… I gotta tell you, though, I can’t pass up the hamburgers and hot dogs. Here, too, I opt for grass fed organic beef and organic hot dogs — on whole grain buns… Mmmmmmm……

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