For a healthy National Grilling Month, remember your non-starchy veggies

A row of vegetables on a grill

July is national grilling month! The warm weather is here, farmer’s markets are in every square and we are surrounded by a variety of in-season produce. From peaches and watermelon to eggplant and zucchini, all these nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables are perfect for meeting the “half your plate” recommendation. But move over cold salads and fruit kabobs, this summer harvest can also be super tasty thrown right on the grill next to your favorite protein!

“Many people associate the grill with corn on the cob,” says Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Senior Dietitian and Nutrition Clinic Coordinator Stefanie O’Connor, MS, RD, LDN. “Did you know corn is technically a vegetable but our bodies process it more like our beloved starches (think rice and bread)? Corn, squash, plantains… all of them are considered STARCHY vegetables. To better manage our weight and blood sugar levels, we should be eating corn OR the burger/hot dog bun with our meal, not both. Americans really fall short eating enough of the fiber-filled, NON-starchy vegetables that keep us fuller longer, like zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus and bell peppers.”

Want to try adding some non-starchy veggies to your grilling repertoire? O’Connor has some tips and tricks for grilling produce:

  • Cut vegetables and fruits no smaller than in quarters to leave as much surface area for grill marks as possible—this is how the grill imparts real flavor!
  • For vegetables, brush on a liberal amount of cooking oil that can withstand high heat, like olive oil.
  • For fruits, brush with balsamic vinegar or honey and wrap in foil packets to steam on the grill.
  • Use the highest heat areas on the grill for heartier pieces that take longer to cook (like peppers, onions and broccoli). Move the produce around the grill if you find pieces are not cooking evenly or cooking too quickly.
  • Close the grill. Flip vegetables after 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Stay nearby because fruits and veggies cook much quicker than meat.

“Speaking of meat, the grill isn’t just for hot dogs and hamburgers anymore,” says O’Connor. “There is now a long list of plant-based proteins available that can satisfy a summer cook-out. ‘Burgers’ made of pea or soy protein are a delicious meat alternative. ‘Veggie’ burgers have been popular for quite some time. These substitutes incorporate minced vegetables and provide a source of protein by mixing in beans.”

For even more resources on grilling produce, O’Connor recommends this guide from the USDA, highlighting fruits and vegetables for each season, as well as recipes.

Want to learn more about healthy eating? Contact Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Nutrition Clinic at 617-983-4455 to set up an appointment with a registered dietitian.


Published 6/26/23

Read more news from Brigham and Women's Faulkner Hospital

Looking for more news from BWFH? Go to News to find articles about health, updates to our programs and services and stories about staff and patients.

Go to News