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Sweet Grill Additions

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By Bridget N. Jones, LMT

Are you looking for something different to grill this summer? Try fresh fruit! It’s a nutritious and colorful way to add exciting flavor to your backyard party. Fruit is comprised mostly of water and sugars. The heat of your grill will caramelize the natural sugars and reduce the water content, concentrating the flavor. Also, when you eat the fruit while still warm, it is luscious!

Grilling fruit is pretty simple. If you cut the fruit early, soak it in water to keep it juicy, adding a little lemon juice to retain color. Start with a clean grill grate. Brush or spray a little cooking oil on your fruit to prevent sticking. Start your fruit over indirect heat or medium heat so it warms gently and evenly. Fruit doesn’t take long to grill, so keep an eye on it.

Firm fruits are best. Try apples and pears cut in half, cores removed, and cooked with the peel on to help hold their shape. Cut them in slices instead if they are huge. Bananas should be cut lengthwise and also cooked in the peel. Cut watermelon and pineapple in slices. Firmer ripe figs can be sliced in half to grill. Strawberries can be cooked easily on a skewer. Peaches, plums, mangos and apricots can be cut in half, pitted, and cooked in peels but need to be watched closely because they can become very soft. Citrus can be grilled thickly sliced. Cook all of these fruits on both sides.

Try fruit kabobs. Prepare them yourself, or encourage friends and family to join in the fun and make their own combinations. Cut your larger fruits in big chunks that can hold up on the skewer and over the heat. Mix and match strawberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, pears, apples, figs, cantaloupe, pineapple and more. You could serve them as an appetizer, with a meal, or even as dessert.

For a savory treat, try the following recipe.

Grilled Watermelon, Mint and Feta Salad

Serves 6-8

1 small seedless watermelon, between 3-4 pounds, cut into 1-inch-thick rounds (lay melon on its side, and cut through rind and flesh with a sharp knife)
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves, torn
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled into large chunks
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and black pepper to taste

Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat until very hot. Two at a time, grill watermelon rounds, turning once, until charred (about 2-3 minutes per side). Transfer watermelon to a cutting board, let cool slightly and remove rind; cut rounds into wedges. Place watermelon on a serving platter; sprinkle with mint and feta. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from Health.com.

For a fun dessert, cut fresh peaches and apricots in half, remove the pits, and leave the skins on. Cook the fruit a few minutes on each side, just enough to soften it and leave grill marks. Toss the grilled fruit with honey and lemon zest and serve over vanilla ice cream. (Dessert idea from The New York Times blogger Martha Rose Shulman.)

There are many ways to enjoy grilled fruit this summer for a healthy treat. I’m hoping to try the peaches and ice cream idea at my next cookout. Yum!

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