In episode 030, Taryn speaks with Liz Marino from The Clean Eating Couple about using the grill for healthy eating. If you’re trying to eat healthier foods but still want to make use of your grill, Liz gives lots of great tips for how to do that. She also covers some delicious healthy grilling recipes that just might help you eat your vegetables! Listen in as Liz goes over some of her favorite recipes for both the Traeger and her Weber gas grill.
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Bio: Liz Marino is the founder of the Clean Eating Couple, a recipe website where she’s been posting simple, easy-to-follow, healthy recipes made with minimal ingredients since 2013. Liz’s work has been featured on MSN, Taste of Home, Women’s Health, Buzzfeed, and many others. She lives in the New England area with her husband Tyler and their two dogs. Basil and Zeti.
Some of the following are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
- Traeger pellet grill
- Weber Genesis gas grill
- Mrs. Dash seasoning
- Metal skewers for grilling
- Meat mallet
- Thermapen instant-read thermometer
- Heavy duty foil
These are some of the recipes mentioned by Liz in the episode. They are on her website, The Clean Eating Couple, except where noted.
- Veggie kabobs
- Grilled pineapple (Hot Pan Kitchen)
- Grilled peaches (Hot Pan Kitchen)
- 5 healthy chicken marinades
- Healthy salmon marinades
- Healthy salad dressing recipes
- Chili lime grilled shrimp
- Traeger pork chops (Hot Pan Kitchen)
- Grilled pork tenderloin
- Smoked pork roast (Hot Pan Kitchen)
- Coffee BBQ pulled pork
Taryn Solie: Hello, grillers. We are winding down summer a bit. But it’s still perfect grilling weather. This week I’ve got a great episode. If you’re wanting to try some healthier foods on the grill before the holiday season hits. I talked with Liz Marino from the Clean Eating Couple, and she has a ton of great, healthier grilling recipe ideas. I just know you’re going to love. Before we begin, if you’re enjoying this podcast, I’d love for you to share it with someone who’s into grilling and outdoor cooking. As a newer podcast, it helps spread the word and I would really appreciate it. Now let’s get into the episode.
Today on the podcast I’m joined by Liz Marino. Liz is the founder of the Clean Eating Couple, a recipe website where she’s been posting simple, easy to follow, healthy recipes made with minimal ingredients since 2013. Liz’s work has been featured on MSN, Taste of Home, Women’s Health, Buzzfeed, and many others. She lives in the New England area with her husband Tyler and their two dogs. Basil and Zeti. Liz. Welcome to the podcast.
Liz Marino: Hi Taryn. Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy to be here.
Taryn Solie: I’m so happy to have you here. I think this is gonna be a fun conversation. We’re gonna focus on healthy grilling because that’s kind of your background. But before we get into that, I wanna talk a little bit about your food background. Tell me, tell us, how you got interested in food and recipe development.
Liz Marino: Yeah, I’d love to. So I have always loved to cook since I was a little girl. I come from a big Italian family where food is the focus of literally everything between having family dinners or desserts around the holidays. We love to eat and we love to cook. So I’ve always cooked with my mom and my grandparents. As I got older, I started cooking for myself. But specifically with healthy food, it kind of started when I was in college. I had started working out and I was starting to be a little bit more conscious of what I ate. I started cooking healthier recipes and a bunch of people started asking me for those recipes. Before you know it, the Clean Eating Couple was born.
Taryn Solie: Healthy can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people. What is your definition of healthy, for you and for the website and the recipes that you make?
Liz Marino: Yeah, totally. If I look back on it, I’m like the Clean Eating Couple can mean so many things. I don’t know that was necessarily the best name choice, but for me, eating healthy is I know that I feel best when I eat a lot of fruits and veggies. Some good protein and some healthy carbs, like potatoes, rice. I try to focus on things that are, you know, minimally processed. So basically I try to shop around the perimeter of the grocery store, avoid the packaged foods where I can, but I also believe that life is way too short to just eat vegetables. So I love cookies from time to time, too. So I believe in a balance between eating all the things pretty much.
Taryn Solie: Yeah. I think that’s a really good way to approach it. I love that. I mean, obviously one of your dogs is named Ziti.
Liz Marino: I mean, I love a bowl of pasta.
Taryn Solie: I love it. So now let’s talk a little bit about your grilling background. So where does that come in? Are you the griller? Is Tyler the griller?
Liz Marino: So I would say that of the two of us, Tyler is definitely the better griller, but I grill as well. Tyler’s super into it. We have a Traeger and a Weber gas grill, and he is really into smoking all the meats. So ribs and wings and pulled pork. If you come over here on a Sunday during football season, you are eating well. But I also love to grill. So between the two of us, I feel like we probably grill at least twice a week, especially in the summertime. We’re a little limited to the weather here. Obviously, if it’s snowing, we’re not die hard grillers. If it’s snowing, we’re gonna just cook inside. But we grill as much as we can, especially in the summertime.
Taryn Solie: Yeah. Do you tend to favor the gas grill or the Traeger grill?
Liz Marino: Trager all the way. I love the Trager so much. It’s our favorite.
Taryn Solie: It’s one of our favorites too. It’s not as quick, I will say. I feel like it’s not as quick, but the food usually will turn out better on the Trager.
Liz Marino: I agree. I think in general, grilling is relatively easy to do. But I think it’s harder to mess something up pretty quickly on a gas grill because the heat is just so high. You can easily burn something. Whereas with the Traeger, obviously it still gets hot. But I think that it’s a lot harder to mess things up, because it’s a much slower method. Plus you just get so much flavor from the smoke that it just makes everything so delicious.
Taryn Solie: Yes. Not that this is a commercial for Traeger, but since we’re talking about it, you don’t have the flare ups, right? Which is something that people have to watch out for on a gas grill. The Trager has a sheet that blocks the fire. So you don’t deal with the flare ups. That can be a really big thing.
Liz Marino: Yes.
Taryn Solie: So I wanna dive right into healthy grilling recipes. What are some of your favorites? Let’s get into recommendations for people. Let’s talk about it.
Liz Marino: Okay. So my favorite thing to grill are veggies. If you were someone that is like, eh, I’m not really a vegetable person or you think vegetables are boring. I’m telling you if you put them on the grill, it is going to be an absolute game changer. So whenever we do grill, I make a huge batch of basically I call them clean out the fridge kabobs. So if there’s mushrooms, onions, pepper, zucchini, pretty much anything. I can go on a skewer, it’s going on a skewer. But I just toss it with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can just put like a little bit of salt, pepper, garlic powder. If you have any premade seasoning blends like a Mrs Dash or something like that, you can toss that on there. Let them sit for about five minutes, toss it all together and then put them on kabobs and grill them. The flavor that it gives them is so good. I could eat just bowls and bowls of them. There’s they’re my favorite thing to grill.
Taryn Solie: Is there anything, any sort of veggies that you have found that don’t grill well for you?
Liz Marino: Well for kabob, you wanna have something that’s gonna actually stick on it easily. So like, you wouldn’t wanna put, a carrot is gonna be really hard to put on a kabob, because it’s just harder. Although you could totally grill a carrot, it’ll just be hard to get on there. I’m trying to think off the top of my head. I don’t usually put tomatoes on them because I just find that they just turn to mush really quick. Cucumbers would not do that, even though they’re great in the summertime. But mushrooms, peppers, onions, zucchini. If you have eggplant. I’m trying to think of what else we throw on there. That’s usually what we have in our fridge. Those are our favorites. And I have a recipe for veggie kabobs that I can give you if you wanna pop in the show notes. It has some tips on there, like what you can put in there or what you can’t put in there that’ll work well.
Taryn Solie: Perfect. That’ll be perfect. Do you usually for specifically kabobs, do you usually use wood or do you use metal skewers?
Liz Marino: We use metal skewers and we actually use bigger metal skewers. It is a little bit of a pain to turn the kabobs on the grill. And I find that the bigger metal skewers are just a little bit easier to handle. You totally can use wood skewers, but I don’t use them because you have to soak them ahead of time otherwise they’re apt to catch on fire. That’s just a whole pain because typically when you’re grilling, you want quick and easy and the whole step of soaking something in water is just not worth it. Too much effort for me. So we love our metal skewers. They’re just super easy to use, and they’re easy to clean too. We just pop them right in the dishwasher.
Taryn Solie: Yes. I’m a big proponent of metal skewers and they’re not that expensive. Usually you can find them for like $10 or less, for a pack of six or something like that. For me, wood skewers, even if I soak them for like two hours, they still burn and they still singe and it’s hard to pick up your meat. They cut in half. It’s just like, oh my God.
Liz Marino: I also worry sometimes. They get a little splintery and that makes me nervous for what if it’s like stuck inside the veggies or if you put chicken on them or whatever. I don’t even own wood skewers. It’s just not worth it. If you are gonna use them more than twice, just buy a pack of the metal ones. Which I’m sure once you use them, you’ll love them and wanna use them again.
Taryn Solie: Yes. Yes, exactly. I agree. I think veggies on the grill, that’s one of my favorite ways to eat veggies, is on the grill. Do you grill a lot of fruit at all?
Liz Marino: So it’s so funny that you asked that because my mom was just asking me this. I have never been able to really nail fruit on the grill. I feel like it always just turns out, not that great. I burn it. But I know I’ve seen you have a grilled pineapple recipe. Am I making this up? And peaches?
Taryn Solie: Yes. Okay. Liz lives quite far from me, on the other side of the coast or other side of the States, so it’s not like I can like hop over to her house, but I’m gonna have to have you try something out because grilled pineapple and grilled peaches are some of my favorite favorite things, especially in the summer. Particularly with peaches, that’s when they’re really ripe. For me, I like to make whipped coconut cream to put on there. It’s so, so good. So we’re gonna have to give you some lessons.
Liz Marino: Share all your tips and tricks.
Taryn Solie: Share all the tips. Yes. I love it. So what other recipes, you talked about veggies. What other recipes, maybe some proteins that you may have in mind that would be good.
Liz Marino: So anytime we are firing up the grill, everything is going on. Because I almost kind of use it as a meal prep tool, because if you’re gonna turn on the grill and you’re gonna be out there anyways, you might as well just put as much as you can on there. Also cook enough so that you have enough for a couple lunches or maybe future dinner. So we are really big on grilling chicken, which you might think is so boring. But if you marinated ahead of time, it can totally transform it and make it a really delicious filling meal. So what we’ll typically do is we’ll defrost some chicken breasts. I always pound them with a meat mallet beforehand, because I find it just helps make them a little bit more tender and then we will put them in a marinade, a couple hours before we’re gonna pop them on the grill. Sometimes we do like a lime and cilantro marinade. Sometimes we make lemon garlic. We love coconut amino, so we’ll put coconut aminos and some ginger, almost like a Asian flare to it. But there’s really no wrong way to do it. If you don’t feel like making your own marinades, look for a good quality store bought dressing. There are tons of brands out there that make marinade and dressings now that cut the prep time down to basically nothing. So we are big fans of grilled chicken for protein.
Taryn Solie: You said chicken. Do you usually do chicken breasts or do you use chicken thighs too? Or what do you usually do?
Liz Marino: No, we usually do chicken breasts just cuz that’s my favorite. But we also will do chicken thighs as well. I like the chicken thighs because it cooks most of the fat off them. So you’re left with a really lean but delicious piece of chicken. The chicken breasts obviously can get a little bit more dry because there’s just less fat on them. But both are delicious on the grill.
Taryn Solie: Yes. Then do you use a meat thermometer to check your chicken?
Liz Marino: The Traeger has a thermometer connected to it. So we’ll use that. But we also just have a quick little instant read thermometer that we’ll use as well.
Taryn Solie: Yeah. It’s usually around like, not for everything all the time, but usually around 165 is the safe temp, for most things. That tends to be the safe temp that you wanna cook something too. Then do you have a bunch of marinade recipes on your site? I feel like you do.
Liz Marino: Yeah. I have one post that has five healthy chicken marinades in it. I have one for salmon as well. Then we have a ton of dressing recipes on our site. I’ll send you the links for all of these. We have dressing recipes that can be used as marinades.
Taryn Solie: Yes. That’s a great way to double duty. You’re talking about meal prep, right? Make the marinade, use it as a marinade for one night and then use it maybe a couple nights later as a dressing.
Liz Marino: We have this zesty lemon, honey mustard, kind of dressing that is so good. You can literally put it on anything you can put, we’ve put it on shrimp. We’ve put it on chicken. It’s great in this kale salad that I make. There is nothing that you can’t put that dressing on. I love stuff like that because to your point, if you’re gonna take the time to make a homemade dressing, you might as well make one that’s gonna go on multiple things so that you can really get the most out of it.
Taryn Solie: Yes, I totally agree. So you mentioned salmon, you mentioned shrimp. Do you guys grill a lot of seafood?
Liz Marino: I will be honest. We don’t really grill a ton of seafood. We grilled shrimp. Salmon I find a little bit difficult to cook on the grill. But I’ve heard that if you just put the skin directly on it it’s a little easier. So we don’t do a ton of grilled seafood, but like I said, shrimp, we have done salmon on the Trager.
Taryn Solie: Okay, good. What about pork and beef? Are you guys big into that?
Liz Marino: Yeah, so we love pork chops on the grill. On the Traeger specifically, I think there’s so much better on the Traeger. Pork chops can be one of those cuts of meat that I think people are afraid to cook. But grilling them can really give them a lot of flavor. So we love pork chops there. Pork tenderloin on the grill. We have done pork roast, but if you’re gonna do it on a smoker, it does take a little bit of time. So we’ve done that. We’ve done pulled pork. Then for beef, we will do burgers. We don’t really grill a ton of beef other than that, though, we’re not really super into steak tips or anything like that. But we do love a good burger.
Taryn Solie: And who doesn’t love a good burger? I mean, burgers are the best. So what would you recommend somebody who is looking to, and we’ve talked a lot of these recipes, but for somebody who is maybe looking to grill healthier recipes for the end of summer, or maybe even into tailgating season, what are some things that you’re like, yeah, try this recipe. Try this recipe, maybe pair some of these together. What would be your recommendations?
Liz Marino: So I would say, especially we are chatting right now, it’s August 1st. I would say look for seasonal stuff. Because now is like the peak of the best boiling stuff. Grilled corn, grilled zucchini. Pretty much all that summer produce is so yummy on the grill. Eggplant. Also if you have an herb garden, you can use all those herbs and your marinades and whatnot. So I would say try to think about eating locally. Then in terms of the best things to pair together for healthier eating, like we had mentioned before, chicken breasts and chicken thighs are great and they’re great if you’re, you know, either just cooking for a healthy meal family for dinner, or if you’re heading to a tailgate. I would say, even if everyone else is eating heavier stuff, if you don’t wanna eat that, and there’s a grill there, just bring your own chicken. Or bring what you like, bring veggies to put on there. So I would say my go-to weeknight grilled dinner is grilled chicken breasts or grilled chicken thighs that we’ve marinated for a couple hours in something really yummy. Then we’ll make those veggie kabobs, with whatever we have hanging around. If you are looking for something that’s even easier than the kabobs, I like the kebabs cuz then the vegetables are directly on the grill and they’re directly on the flame. So they really get that flavor, but you can also wrap them in foil, make a little foil pack and then that’s really easy cleanup and takes away the work of having to actually put them on the skewer. So you can do either of those. Then we just keep it simple with a baked potato. We will take a fork, poke some poles in the potatoes and then pop them in the microwave for three, four minutes. Coat them really liberally in olive oil, salt, pepper, wrap them in foil and throw them on the grill. They are so delicious. That’s a great meal. If you are doing a Whole30, or if you have people that are gluten free, That’s all gluten free. It’s Whole30 friendly and it’s super easy to customize. With all my recipes, I like to tailor them, even though I don’t follow any specific diet, I like to make them to be able to be customized so that anyone can make them. So, say you’re eating keto. Maybe you’d skip the potato. Say you want more protein, you have another piece of chicken. Say you don’t like vegetables or you don’t like mushrooms, you pick out the mushrooms and you eat the zucchini. So I like recipes that have different little portions so that everyone can kind of build their own meal from it, with what they like or what they want.
Taryn Solie: Yes. That’s an excellent point. I think that’s a really good way to go about it because I know a lot of families have that. Where somebody is dairy free. Somebody is gluten free. Somebody is keto. Especially, I feel with grilling, there’s lots of different ways to accommodate everybody. One thing that we haven’t talked about yet is salads. Because that’s a wonderful option. Grill some chicken and put it on a salad and there’s so many different combinations to do there totally.
Liz Marino: That’s usually what we’ll do is when we grill, we’ll grill double or triple the amount of chicken or whatever protein we’re having. Then the next day I’ll usually put it on a big salad, just so that it’s similar, but it’s different. You’re not eating the exact same meal all over again. Love throwing some chopped grilled chicken on a salad or leftover steak on a salad. You add some fresh fruit in there and some extra veggies, a good dressing. That’s a perfect lunch for the next day. It’s so easy to make.
Taryn Solie: Yes. Again, what we were just talking about – marinate the chicken, put it on the grill and then the next day, or the day after, use that dressing on a salad. There you go. It’s already all done
Liz Marino: Yes. Love that.
Taryn Solie: Oh, this is so good. Well, I think there’s a lot of really good ideas here. I think for anyone who’s looking to be a little bit healthier, there’s a lot of great recipes that you’ve given. Before we end, I wanna know what is one of your favorite, either healthy or not healthy, grilling recipes that you guys are either looking forward to every year or just maybe right now, it’s something you’re really grilling.
Liz Marino: I think my favorite grilling recipe, it’s not really even a recipe, but Tyler makes pulled pork on the Traeger and it is the best. It just falls off. We use bone-in pork butt and it just falls right off the bone. It is so good. So tender. He smokes it. He’ll get up in the middle of the night and turn the smoker on it. Two o’clock in the morning so that we can have it for dinner the next day. That’s honestly my favorite thing. But that’s a little bit more labor intensive. For a quick weeknight thing. I know I’ve said it before, but those grilled veggies. It seems like really, that’s your favorite thing to put on the grill? But they’re so good. The grilled mushrooms and onions together are just so delicious and they’re so easy. So I love things that are packed with flavor but don’t take a ton of time or effort and that’s it for me.
Taryn Solie: Yeah, no, I agree. I think that it makes it easier to eat. You can get dinner on the table in no time and it’s so nice. Well, this has been so fun, Liz. Thank you for coming on. I do wanna give you a chance to let people know where they can connect with you online.
Liz Marino: Yeah, so you can connect with me on thecleaneatingcouple.com. If you wanna chat, feel free to DM me on Instagram, or you can send me a note. Liz@thecleaneatingcouple. Then I actually have a second website as well. If you like dessert, it is very different from healthy food. But you could check out my dessert website, which is tastytreatsandeats.com.
Taryn Solie: Perfect. Those are great. We’ll put links to those in the show notes, as well as links to many of the recipes that we just talked about. Thank you so much, Liz for coming on.
Liz Marino: Thanks Taryn. It was so nice for you to have me here.
Outro: Okay, so, so many great grilling ideas. I love that Liz is all about grilling veggies because veggies and fruit are some of my favorite things to grill. I also love the suggestion of pounding down the chicken breast to tenderize it a bit. I think that’s great, especially because when you do that, it helps the meat cook more evenly since it’s all the same thickness. I’m going to include links to the resources and recipes liz mentioned on the show notes page. To get there, you can either go to my main website at hotpankitchen.com and click on podcasts in the main menu. Or you can click on the link provided in whatever podcast app you’re listening to. That’s it for today. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, keep grilling like a mother.
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