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Andy Husbands, author of Pitmaster and Wicked Good Barbecue, gives us a taste of the open-flame tricks that helped him lose more than 20 lbs.

1. Whether you are cooking meats or veggies and fruits, apply a bit of good-quality, very light oil to the grill as you heat it to ensure you don’t leave half of your meal in the flames. Keep away from sesame oil, which has a low burn point, and reach instead for extra virgin olive, sunflower, or safflower oil. And, if you’re watching your macros, make sure you measure; it’s easy to pour way, way too much if you are eyeballing it, Husbands says.

2. “Broccoli’s the best!” That’s how Husbands describes one of his favorite veggies to grill. Never tried it before? If you like roasted broccoli, grilled broccoli will blow you away, and bonus, it’s super easy to prep. Either cut into spears or halve/quarter the full head and toss in a bowl with some oil, salt, pepper, and garlic, and do what Husbands calls “offset grilling”: bank the fire up to one side of your grill so the veggies aren’t directly over the flame (also called “indirect grilling”). Last, pop the cover over it to create an oven-like effect. Don’t worry about it getting too crispy—Husbands insists that’s when it’s at its best, flavor-wise.

3. Ditto for cauliflower. Half a head over a flame does take a little more skill and a little more time to cook, but it’s totally doable, Husbands says. Lightly char the edges and watch it like a hawk.

4. Never say that Husbands is afraid to experiment. “I’ve grilled lettuces, you know,” he laughs. “Grilled romaine salad is kind of fun.” A sliced head left on the grill until the edges turn adds a whole new je ne sais quoi to a regular-old Caesar.

5. Pop a bit of oil, salt, and pepper on some carrots (slice them in half, if you like) and roast them over indirect heat to prevent them from burning. As Husbands points out, barbecuing a sweet vegetable like this doesn’t have the same “oops, I overdid it” risk as meat or fish. “A carrot, cooked, is good whether it’s al dente or it’s soft. It’s still pretty tasty.” Its higher sugar content (comparatively speaking) can also add to a caramelization effect, he adds.

6. A salad doesn’t necessarily need leafy greens. Place some flank steak (a super-easy-to-cook meat, Husbands stresses) or grilled tuna on top of some grilled broccoli, carrots, and peppers, and you’ve got yourself a hearty low-cal meal that you can seriously sink your knife into.

7. Any stone fruit, like peaches, plums, and nectarines, are awesome fresh off the barbecue. Slice them in half, especially if they are really ripe, as they tend to fall apart at that stage, Husbands warns.

8. There’s more than one way to get sweet on the grill. “I do believe in everything in moderation, but there’s nothing better than a grilled banana split.” (The banana is grilled, not the ice cream, by the way.)

9. Get to the root of things by slicing up some quarter-inch or half-inch thick discs of turnips, rutabagas (“They are delicious,” Husbands promises), or sweet potatoes. Wide enough to fit on the grill, they are also thin enough that it won’t take long for the heat to work its magic.

Rachel Debling
Rachel Debling is a Canadian freelance writer with more than a decade of experience working in fitness, both as a personal trainer and as a writer and editor. A regular contributor to the pages of STRONG, her work has also appeared in reputable fitness titles including Oxygen Magazine and Inside Fitness Magazine.