When neighborhood grills start firing up, you know it’s summer. Time to get out of the steam-filled kitchen and into the backyard. Grilling is a wonderful way to add a smoky twist to chicken, steaks, veggies, and even dessert! Dessert? Yeah, we’ll get to that shortly.

Here are a few ways to prepare some of your summer favorites in a healthier and safer manner on the grill:

Splay out your chicken: Barbecued chicken is an American delight. But preparing it on the grill can be a pain—all that turning of each piece, not knowing if the thighs are still raw at the bone while the breasts are bone dry. Here’s one of the most helpful grilling tricks you’ll learn all summer. If you don’t care about another word in this blog, just check out this easy recipe for grilling a spatchcocked chicken.

Spatchwhat? Are you kidding? Let’s break it down: “Spatchcock” (pronounced exactly as it looks) is just an easy way to flatten a whole chicken so that the light and dark meat cook evenly and are ready at the same time. Since the chicken stays intact, you don’t have all those parts to flip on the grill; just turn the whole bird once, then cut it up when it’s done. Presto! (Food-safety tip: To test doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, being careful not to touch a bone; the temp should read 165 degrees and no red juices should run out.)

Enjoy fresh corn without butter: Most of us love corn on the cob and eat it the same way—slathered in butter and showered with salt. But did you know that a tablespoon of butter contains 100 calories, and only a quarter-teaspoon of salt has almost 600 milligrams of sodium? Here’s a tasty way to serve it without butter or salt at all! We know, this sounds SO wrong, but try not to judge. Pour a couple tablespoons of Louisiana-style concentrated liquid crab boil into a large pot of water, and then drop in the fresh corn. You should be able to smell the spices during cooking. If you don’t get a sharp whiff of the crab boil, just add a tad more (a little goes a long way).

When the corn is finished, drain the water, squeeze some lemon juice over the ears, and sprinkle them with a salt-free spice such as Mrs. Dash or seasoned pepper. You’ll be surprised by the unique, savory flavor. Just call it “no-guilt corn.”

Grill your dessert too: Nope, we’re not roasting marshmallows. Remember those kebab skewers we used a couple recipes ago? Now we’re going to make grilled summer fruit kebabs with fresh pineapple, peaches, and strawberries, a little olive oil, and a dash of sea salt. Although the grilling process intensifies the sugars in the fruit, you can also sprinkle the finished kebabs with a bit of brown sugar while they’re still hot or drizzle them with honey or agave syrup after they cool. (Quick tip: soaking wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes before use helps prevent them from burning.)

How’s this for a summer menu that’s packed with flavor, texture, and interest, yet light on calories and salt?

Your doctors at Teladoc hope you have a fantastic summer filled with family, friends, great food, and lots of fun in the sun (don’t forget your sunscreen). And if you ever need us for any non-emergency medical care, we’re here 24/7, anywhere in the U.S. by app, web, or phone.

Get started with Teladoc

(P.S. Be sure to place your grill on stable ground at least 10 feet away from any buildings or overhanging tree branches, and keep a connected water hose or fully-charged fire extinguisher within arm’s reach.)

Check out 5 food safety tips for your summer cookouts

This portion of the Teladoc Health website occasionally offers health, fitness and nutritional information and is provided for educational purposes only. You cannot rely on any information provided here as a substitute for or replacement of professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Teladoc Health cannot assure that the information contained on this site always includes the most recent findings or developments with respect to the particular subject matter covered.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical- or health-related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

If you are in the United States and think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your healthcare professional, or 911, immediately.