rosemary peach chicken kebabs

One of the best sounds of the summer is that initial sizzle from fresh cuts of meat hitting a hot grill.

But there’s a way to get that sizzle without the steak.

“Fish is a great option for grilling,” said Rachel K. Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., professor of nutrition and professor of medicine at the University of Vermont. “The AHA recommends that you eat fish at least twice a week.”

The American Heart Association recommends substituting chicken or fish for red meats since both have less cholesterol and saturated fat. Fattier fish, such as salmon and trout, also are high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Grillers also need to pay close attention to the marinade. Many pre-bottled marinades and barbecue sauces are high in sodium and added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup. Johnson recommended one of her favorite homemade alternatives.

“One of my favorites is to marinate fish and vegetables in heart-healthy olive oil, balsamic vinegar and spices,” she said. “No salt needed!”

Also, don’t forget side dishes, the second aspect of grilling.

In-season fresh fruits and vegetables, with their bright acidic flavors can become a heart-healthy side or entrée during the summer when people crave something fresh and light to beat the heat.

Johnson recommends that people look for vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables to assure they’re getting a full range of nutritious offerings.

“Try to eat a ‘rainbow’ of fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Aim for colorful fruits and vegetables like strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, kale, carrots and beets.” Fruits and vegetables that are brightly colored are  rich in phytochemicals, powerful disease-fighting substances, she said.

But nutrition-conscious people turning to a leafy salad instead of a potato or macaroni side, need to remember reaching for a bottle of salad dressing may be a mistake.

Johnson warns against some pre-bottled salad dressings that may be overly salty. And in the case of low or non-fat dressings may be high in added sugars.

The AHA recommends that men limit added sugars to 9 teaspoons a day and women limit their intake to no more than 6 teaspoons a day.

Added sugars will not always come directly from a sugar packet. They can hide in something salty.

“Learn to read the labels on bottled salad dressings,” she said. “Look for healthy oils like canola and sunflower and choose a dressing that is low in sodium.

Better yet, make your own dressing with healthy oils. The AHA has recipes they can recommend.

Portions are also important during a cookout. People may be relaxed in a family cookout, but they shouldn’t fill their plate with just cuts of meat, bread and potato chips. “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables, one-quarter protein, one-quarter grain (preferably whole) and add a glass of low or non-fat milk,” Johnson said.

Go Fresh cover edit



For a healthful and tasty recipe, the American Heart Association offers this kebab recipe, which appears in American Heart Association Go Fresh: A Heart-Healthy Cookbook with Shopping and Storage Tips. The recipe can easily be made outdoors or indoors with a grill pan.



Rosemary-Peach Chicken Kebabs with Orange Glaze

Serves 4; 1 kebab per serving

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 to 15 minutes


End your day on a sweet note with these chicken-and-peach kebabs brushed with a honeyed citrus glaze.




spray grill Lightly spray the grill rack with cooking spray. Preheat the grill on medium.
thread meat Meanwhile, thread the chicken, peaches, and bell pepper alternately onto four 14- to 16-inch metal skewers. Sprinkle the pepper and salt over the kebabs.
make glaze In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Set aside half the glaze (about 2 tablespoons). Brush both sides of the kebabs with the remaining glaze.
grill Grill the kebabs for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the vegetables are almost tender, turning once halfway through and brushing with the reserved 2 table-spoons of glaze, using a clean basting brush. Reduce the heat or move the kebabs to a cooler area of the grill if they are cooking too fast.


Cook’s Tip: Ripe but firm peaches are important for this recipe. The direct heat softens and sweetens the fruit, even if it’s not quite at its prime.

Healthy Swap: You can replace the peaches with other stone fruits, such as nectarines and plums.

nutrition facts

This recipe is reprinted with permission from American Heart Association Go Fresh. Copyright © 2014 by the American Heart Association. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc. Available from booksellers everywhere. Click here to buy from or here for


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