Katie's Healthy Bites: New Meats for The Grill

I love to fire up my grill to celebrate summer with friends and family, but you won't find everyday hamburgers and hot dogs on our plates. This year, we're changing it up and trying out some less-familiar meats that are healthier (and more interesting) than typical BBQ grub. Here are five alternate meats you should try.
Sausage and Peppers Skewers_15.tif

Sausage and Peppers Skewers_15.tif

Food Styling: Jamie Kimm Prop Styling: Marina Malchin

I love to fire up my grill to celebrate summer with friends and family, but you won't find everyday hamburgers and hot dogs on our plates. This year, we're changing it up and trying out some less-familiar meats that are healthier (and more interesting) than typical BBQ grub. Here are five alternate meats you should try.

Bison: Also known as buffalo, this extra-lean meat is becoming more common in restaurants and grocery stores. Bison has less fat and more omega-3 fatty acids than most beef. Cook bison burgers slowly over low heat to medium doneness -- the meat's natural juices will tenderize to perfection!

Chicken Sausage: I am a huge fan of chicken sausage, and prefer the fresh versions over the pre-cooked for sure. Both chicken and turkey sausages come in a variety of flavors like spicy Italian and spinach and feta, and they are lower in saturated fat then their beef and pork counterparts. Try them sliced on skewers ( pictured) or serve them up on buns for more traditional cookout fare.

Emu: An “emu” or "ratite" is part of the family of non-flying birds. At maturity, an emu is to be five or six feet tall weighing in at 90-120 pounds. The bird’s tan, brown wings surround its stocky body and long ostrich-like neck. Emu meat has more protein and iron (but fewer calories and less sodium) than most other red meat. It is similar in taste and texture to lean beef. Cook emu to rare or medium rare doneness over low heat. Watch closely -- it cooks quickly because of its lack of fat. You can also try moist heat cooking methods, like braising or poaching, to avoid a dry, chewy texture.

Ostrich: Like emu, ostrich is also a flightless bird. Ostrich is rich in protein and high in iron, yet is lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol than skinless chicken or turkey. It’s a red meat with a beefy flavor that should be cooked and handled like emu meat.

Venison: Other than hunters that dine on this prized catch, this wild variety of red meat is not widely available, but deserves a mention. It comes from deer or elk, and like buffalo, fat content can be as low as 1 gram per ounce. It’s a lean meat and should be handled as such -- cook to a rare or medium rare over low heat as it can dry out quickly.

Try swapping out some of these meats in your favorite recipes and let us know what you think!

TELL US: What less-familiar meats have you tried?

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, personal chef and owner of HealthyBites, LLC. See Katie's full bio »

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