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Tips for hosting a healthy summer cookout

  • Grilled fresh pork and veggies with lemon

  • Sweet and spicy fresh pork mini kebabs

By: Family Features
August 17, 2018

(Family Features) When people think of barbecues, many think of foods loaded with fat, salt and sugar, which can seem challenging if you are trying to eat healthy. However, it is possible – and easier than you think – to host a balanced cookout with nutritious options, without sacrificing flavor or quality.

Smithfield nutritionist Erin Thacker, MA, RDN, recommends these tips for hosting a backyard barbecue that will leave your guests healthy and happy:

• Stick to lean protein: fresh pork cuts such as sirloins, tenderloins, boneless loins and chops are packed with protein and contain key nutrients like vitamin B6, thiamin, phosphorus, niacin, potassium, riboflavin and zinc. Smithfield fresh pork tenderloins and boneless sirloin roasts are even certified by the American Heart Association* as heart-healthy foods.

• Layer on fruits and veggies: grilled vegetables make for a quick and delicious side dish and grilled fruits are a health-conscious way to end the meal on a lighter note.

• Lighten up: swap mayonnaise and heavy creams for Greek yogurt and vinegars and opt for homemade dressings or sauces instead of store-bought condiments, which often have high sugar contents.

Try these simple, dietitian-approved recipes for Grilled Fresh Pork and Veggies with Lemon or Sweet and Spicy Fresh Pork Mini Kebabs. For more healthy and great-tasting recipe ideas, visit


Grilled fresh pork and veggies with lemon

Prep time: 8 minutes

Cook time: 22 minutes

Servings: 4 

1 Smithfield Fresh Pork Tenderloin, cut into four thick slices

2 teaspoons garlic pepper

1 zucchini squash, cut in half lengthwise

1 yellow summer squash, cut in half lengthwise

1 large portobello mushroom

1/2  large red bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise and flattened

1/2 large red onion, cut into slices

1 lemon, cut in half 

1 tablespoon olive oil


Heat charcoal or gas grill to medium-high. Season fresh pork slices with garlic pepper; grill about 5 minutes per side until internal temperature reaches 145-160 F.

Brush both sides of zucchini squash, yellow squash, mushroom, pepper and onion, plus cut sides of lemon, with oil. 

Grill vegetables for 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Add lemon to grill, cut-side down, and cook additional 2 minutes.

Place vegetables and lemon on cutting board; coarsely chop vegetables. Serve with fresh pork slices on top; squeeze lemon over meat.

Nutritional information per serving: 200 calories; 6 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 75 mg cholesterol; 75 mg sodium; 8 g total carbohydrates; 2 g dietary fiber; 4 g sugars; 30 g protein.


Sweet and spicy fresh pork mini kebabs

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 16 kebabs 


1 Smithfield Roasted Garlic and Cracked Black Pepper

   Marinated Fresh Pork Sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 pineapple, cored and cut into 16 (1-inch) cubes

2 red bell peppers, cut into 16 (1-inch) pieces

16 bamboo skewers (6 inches), soaked in water and drained

2/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Caribbean jerk seasoning


Heat gas or charcoal grill to medium-high.

Thread two pieces of fresh pork sirloin, one pineapple cube and one red pepper piece onto each skewer. Wrap exposed end of skewer with foil to discourage scorching.

Mix honey, vinegar and jerk seasoning together for glaze.

Grill kebabs approximately 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until fresh pork reaches internal temperature of 145 F and then rest for 3 minutes. Generously brush kebabs with glaze during last 2-3 minutes.

Nutritional information per serving: 80 calories; 1 g total fat; 0 g saturated fat; 20 mg cholesterol; 90 mg sodium; 12 g total carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 9 g sugars; 8 g protein.


*Information and recipes not provided by the American Heart Association unless expressly stated.