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10 International Recipes for Healthy Grilling

Some 45 million Americans will resolve to lose weight during the New Year, says the Washington Post, with millions more vowing to eat “healthy-ish,” a word that recently crept into our lexicon. Perhaps you’re one of them, grimly facing the excesses of the holidays or extra poundage collectively known as the “Covid 15.”

In any case, you don’t have to give up your ’que. In fact, live fire cooking and smoking can help you maintain momentum over the long term by eliminating monotony in your diet and giving you ultra-flavorful options. (Grilling is especially compatible with the popular keto diet.) Below are ten examples of recipes that qualify. For more on barbecue and health, click here.

10 Healthy Grill Recipes from Around the World

1. Avocado Chile Tartines

Grilled Avocado Toast

The French word “tartine” refers to nearly any open-faced sandwich, and certainly to avocado toast, taken to a new level with the addition of fresh chiles. Use a good artisanal bread for the base as they do in much of the world. Talk about a reason to get up!

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2. Smoked Gazpacho

Smoked Gazpacho

Fresh tomatoes, lightly smoked on the grill or in a smoker or with a handheld smoker like the Smoking Gun, are combined with vitamin-rich bell peppers and cucumber in this Spanish classic. Garlic and red wine vinegar give this low-cal, low-carb appetizer zing.

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3. Ember-Roasted Vegetable Salad (Escalivada)

Ember-Roasted Vegetable Salad (Escalivada)

Another Spanish dish that hits all the healthy high notes—in addition to fresh vegetables, it contains several spoonfuls of antioxidant-rich Spanish olive oil—is the grilled salad known as escalivada. For maximum flavor, we like to roast the vegetables (which can vary depending on what’s available) directly in the embers, caveman-style.

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4. Thai Grilled Beef Salad

Thai Grilled Beef Salad

You don’t normally think of barbecue as health food, but the high proportion of vegetables to this intensely flavored steak in this Thai-inspired salad definitely makes for healthy eating. The beef is used almost like a condiment, but its electrifying flavors make it very satisfying.

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5. Chipotle-Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Nopalitos Corn Salad

Chipotle-Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Grilled Nopalitos Corn Salad

Pork tenderloin is a very lean protein containing just 3 grams of fat per 3 ounce serving. Here, it takes on big south-of-the-border flavors in a chipotle- and orange-inflected marinade before being grilled. Serve it, if desired, with a grilled corn and nopale salad.

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6. Sugar Cane Shrimp with Spiced Rum Glaze

Sugar Cane Shrimp With Spiced Rum Glaze

From the Caribbean comes a very popular recipe that can be served as an appetizer of a light entrée—shrimp skewered on sugarcane with a spiced rum glaze. You can purchase sugar cane at many Latin grocery stores, or online from Otherwise, substitute bamboo skewers. (Tip: Use 2 skewers per kebab to keep the shrimp from spinning when they’re turned.)

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7. Planked Salmon with Maple-Mustard Glaze

Planked Salmon with Maple Mustard Glaze

King salmon from the Pacific Northwest is glazed with pure maple syrup from either Canada or New England, mayonnaise, and Dijon mustard and grilled on an aromatic cedar plank. Serve this company-worthy dish with grilled asparagus or broccoli rabe.

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8. Moroccan Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Charmoula

Moroccan Grilled Chicken Kebabs with Charmoula

Steven discovered these chicken kebabs at a souk in Fez, Morocco. (They’re a great use for chicken breast.) Though seasoned simply with onion, salt, and pepper, the kebabs are served with an explosively-flavored , herbaceous sauce called charmoula. Great with warmed pita.

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9. Grilled Pound Cake with Mixed Berry Salsa and Smoked Whipped Cream

Grilled Pound Cake with Mixed Berry Salsa and Smoked Whipped Cream

Light but satisfying, a mixed berry “salsa” featuring fresh mint and fresh jalapenos tops grilled store-bought pound cake. A dollop of smoked whipped cream is optional. For even fewer calories, swap wedges of angel food cake for the pound cake.

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10. Spice-Grilled Pineapple with Mezcal and Whipped Cream

Spice-Grilled Pineapple with Mezcal and Whipped Cream

Another guilt-free dessert is Spice-Grilled Pineapple with Mezcal (optional) and Whipped Cream. The high heat of the grill caramelizes on sugared slices of pineapple. Also great with a scoop of gelato or topped with the berry salsa featured in the previous recipe.

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