G is for Grilling Challenge

Week 2

Grilling, like some other cooking methods, is as easy as applying a source of heat to food. With a grill, however, the heat source is a bit more difficult to manage and can be applied directly (as in, over a flame), or indirectly through convection of heated air. This is important to keep in mind when grilling, depending on the food in focus. Direct may be better suited for cooking thinner slices of meat, providing a slight char, or searing to cook from the outside in. On our first video accompanying this topic, look for our recipe on seared flank and tuna steaks. Generally speaking, you can cook any food for a similar amount of time and comparable temperature grilling with indirect heat as you would baking in the oven. Keep this in mind when trying to grill some of your favorite baked dishes, whether it’s a casserole, pizza, chicken, or fish.

Nicole Wilt | A is for Aerobic Challenge - Week 1

When grilling, a few more suggestions go a long way. First, make sure your grill is fully heated to needed temperature before using. This allows for more evenly cooked foods with reliability.  Next, ALWAYS allow your food to cool appropriately. This is particularly true for meat, as cooling allows for the protein to contract, keeping the moisture intact.

Let’s Grill Salmon

As we discussed in week 1, grilling fish doesn’t need to be hard!  Although salmon can  be “hit or miss”, it is probably one of the easiest fish to grill due to its density and versatility.  When choosing a cut of meat, buy with the skin on.  This allows for more uniform cooking, and despite the appearance and uncommonness to do so, it IS edible… and if you choose not to eat, it will easily peel from the cooked meat and your pet will love it! 

When grilling, a few more suggestions go a long way. First, make sure your grill is fully heated to needed temperature before using. This allows for more evenly cooked foods with reliability.  Next, ALWAYS allow your food to cool appropriately. This is particularly true for meat, as cooling allows for the protein to contract, keeping the moisture intact.

We are often asked about choice of salmon.  Basically, there are two option: farm raised and fresh (ocean harvested).  Taste, generally, will be comparable between the two.   Cooking time, appearance, and color may also be virtually identical, although sometimes color can be added for appeal— although this could happen with either produced. 

The farm raised, because of grains being the predominant food source as the fish grows, will be higher in fat content, and as a result, higher in calories per weight.  Fresh caught salmon feeds mainly on krill, plankton, and kelp, making it higher in omega 3 fatty acids (in other words, less fat but denser in the “good fats”).  When comparing side by side, you may notice the fresh raised to be denser in pink to reddish colored flesh and less fat striations.  This doesn’t underestimate the value of farm raised fish… it can still be an excellent choice for any diet, especially compared to counterparts like sirloin steak or less-lean options. 

Day 1

Grilled Barbecue Salmon with Roasted Broccoli

Preheat your grill to about 425°F.  Generously oil both sides of your salmon steaks with olive oil, season the filets and set aside.  If you like, try the easy route with premixed neutral steak seasoning, barbecue seasoning for seafood, or a blend of below:

  • 1 T. cumin
  •  1 T. smoked paprika
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. fresh pepper
  • 1 t. onion pepper

Prepare a glaze to be added atop the fish, divided into two separate or small cups:

  • 1/4 c. agave with 1/2 t. maple extract, or 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1 t. Sriracha, or same amount of cayenne pepper, if you like.

While the grill is heating, mix broccoli florets in a large bowl, tossed in extra virgin olive oil.  Toss with garlic powder , juice of one lemon, and lightly season with salt and pepper.  Wrap in foil. 

Once the grill has been properly heated, place your broccoli in the foil pouch off to the side of the grill, over indirect heat. Cook for about 10 minutes before adding your salmon steaks, skin side down, on grill for the next 5-10 minutes.  Immediately after placing to the grill, brush the tops with your glaze.  After the first 5-10 minutes, brush the glaze again, and then the steaks should lift off the grill plates using a firm spatula.  Flip, and cook for another 5 minutes.  If you like the surface of your salmon a bit more on the crisper side, place over direct heat for the final few minutes, but be careful not to burn.    At this point, remove salmon to cool, brush the salmon once more using a clean brush or baster from  the second bowl, open the broccoli foil pouch and slide over to the hottest portion of the grill. The broccoli will roast for the final minutes, perhaps adding a nice little crispy touch to the tips.    Serve and enjoy!

Training Tip

Nicole Wilt | Get Your Heart Rate Up

Incorporate some healthy Omega 3 fatty acids into your diet by grilling some fish. Vibrantly colored, richly flavored, salmon is a perfect fish to grill with and incorporate into a heart-healthy diet.

Day 2

Cilantro-Cucumber Salsa

Grilling most fish as we’ve discussed in the previous day using indirect heat can be pretty easy, once you get the hang of it.  For today’s recipe idea, try this simple side salsa that goes great with any fish.

  • 1/2 cucumber peeled, halved (lengthwise) and seeded, then thinly sliced 
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, chopped finely
  • 1/4 c. red onion, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime 
  • 1 T. agave

Mix thoroughly and place atop fresh grilled salmon, mahi, or any other fish.   Instead of agave, consider finely chopped fresh pineapple, or perhaps mango with a bit of habanero!

Day 3

Tequila Lime Shrimp and Chili Lime Carrots

OK, now let’s try something new!  How about grilling some shrimp!  Shrimp takes little effort, and will cook quite rapidly.  Because there is more surface area and portions are thinner, usually the grill can be maintained at a lower temperature, typically around 375-400F.  In this dish, we combine juice of one lime, about a quarter cup of tequila and agave each.  Save the lime rinds for next step!  Let the shrimp marinade in the mix for at least an hour.  

At the same time, slice carrots on the diagonal, about 1/4 inch thick.  Toss in olive oil and 1/2 cup agave and lay out on a baking sheet.  Zest one lime rind over the the top of the carrots, then juice one lime atop the limes.  Add a pinch of mildly spicy pepper, like ancho powder, chili seasoning, or (my favorite) Honey Habenero from Spiceology.com.  Place the baking sheet onto the grill, or into an oven at 400F.  The carrots will take a bit of time, so let them cook for about 15-20 minutes before adding the shrimp to the grill.  Toss the carrots at the same time to more uniformly cook.

It’s recommended that you skewer the shrimp before placing to the grill. This will make it easier to turn and handle. They should cook anywhere from 3-5 minutes each side. Another option is to consider placing the shrimp on a salt block. This is a great option for cooking smaller seafood, and one can be purchased on Amazon for a reasonable price. It will impart plenty of salt taste to the shrimp, so you may want to omit any additional salt seasoning beforehand. With either choice, you should be ready to remove your carrots and shrimp. If you like, try placing the shrimp with a bit of chopped cabbage or slaw into a corn tortilla and top with some nonfat plain sour cream mixed with a bit of hot sauce for a perfect, simple street-inspired taco!

Day 4

BBQ Tofu Sliders

For the next challenge, let’s again try tofu!  Yes… I know… tofu has no flavor.  The silver lining (for those optimists out there) is that the relative lack of inherent flavor makes it the perfect protein to mix with any dish.  Use it as a substitute for basically any meat.  It will take on the flavor of whatever you mix with it.  

Here, we took extra firm tofu, sliced into thick wedges. After the grill preheated to 375F, we placed lightly oiled tofu to the grill and basted heavily with a sweet and savory BBQ Sauce (Joe’s Kansas City, am I right!?). Continue to grill and baste, baste and grill, then place to high, direct heat to caramelize the sauce for the last minute or two). Serve with side of roasted potatoes on a toasted bun, with or without a grilled red onion slice or provolone.

Group Consultations

No Group Consultation in
July & August

We're having a great time getting to know you - and all ABC's of Health members - through our monthly group consultations.

We have family vacations scheduled at the beginning of July and the beginning of August, so rather than rescheduling our group consultations, we've decided to take a "summer break" from the group consultations.

We'll be back at it in September - likely with a new schedule.

We love you all and we're excited to chat about all your summer success stories when we resume group consultations in September!

Day 5

Perfect Shredded BBQ Chicken

Let’s return to our roots and try a spin on chicken on the grill.  Applying lower heat and longer cooking time can turn chicken into a perfect shredded BBQ option.  If you have the option for side smoker box, or pellet smoker, try placing chicken breast rubbed heavily with a BBQ seasoning inside a foil tin and place onto your grill.  Let it smoke for at least an hour.  After it soaks up a bit of the smokey flavor, add the following mix into the bottom of the tin:

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. something sweet like brown sugar, agave, or (my usual) low sugar maple syrup.  Here we used a Traeger smoked simple syrup.
  • 1T. apple cider vinegar
  • 1T. liquid smoke (mesquite or hickory does the trick!)
  • 1/4 c. apple juice (optional, but nice touch)
  • 1 c. unsalted beef stock

Cover with foil and let it simmer on medium heat (375F to 400F) until internal temperature of the chicken breast is 165F.  Once it’s thoroughly cooked, douse in your favorite sauce, uncover the foil and cook at 425-450F for another 15-20 minutes, then shreds with a fork.  

Day 6

Grilling Whole Fish


Back to fish!  OK…  this will be a bit of a challenge, but I bet you’re up for it!  Ready for a WHOLE FISH?! Picking a whole fish to grill seems overwhelming, but its not that hard, and the reward is SOOO worth it! Look for a fish from reputable store, preferably a specialty meat market or fish monger.  The eyes should look fresh, not cloudy.  The smell, as we discussed earlier, should be neutral and not overwhelmingly… well, fishy.

Ideal choices include tilapia, red snapper, branzino, or other smaller white fleshed fish.


Most fish mongers can prepare the fish, but if not, follow these simple tips to prepare:

  • Trim the tail, side, and dorsal and ventral fins with kitchen shears
  • Descale with a sharp knife by scraping the scales (tail to head)
  • Most fish have been gutted, but if not, slice the belly from under the gills to tail and remove the insides.  (It’s not as bad as you think!)
  • Pat dry on each side.  A dry surface helps to keep the fish from sticking to the grill.

Once the fish has been prepped, stuff the belly with lemon or lime and a few sprigs of herb of choice.  Generously rub olive oil on the surface and score the mid section from back to belly a few times to allow heat to penetrate.  Place directly over well heated grill for about 7 minutes.  The key is to resist the urge to flip until the skin is crispy and slightly darkened.  Next, flip the fish using one or two spatulas and repeat on the other side.  Remove and cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Day 7

Now that you have the basics for grilling simple meats or non-vegetarian proteins, keep experimenting!  There is no wrong way to try something new.  Let us know your progress, and post pictures to share!