How many calories in a plate of grilled vegetables?

The number of calories in a plate of grilled vegetables can vary greatly depending on the types and amounts of vegetables used. However, a typical plate with 6-8oz total of grilled veggies like zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms would provide around 100-200 calories. The vegetables themselves are low in calories, but any oil or seasoning used in cooking will add additional calories.

Calculating Calories in Grilled Vegetables

To determine the calories in a plate of grilled vegetables, you’ll need to know:

Types of Vegetables Used

Different vegetables have different calorie contents per serving. For example:

Vegetable Calories per 1 cup chopped, raw
Bell peppers 30
Mushrooms 21
Zucchini 18
Yellow squash 20
Eggplant 35
Tomatoes 32
Onions 46
Asparagus 27

So vegetables like zucchini, squash, and mushrooms will provide less calories per serving than higher calorie veggies like bell peppers and onions.

Portion Sizes

The total calories will depend largely on how much of each vegetable you eat. For example:

– 1 cup raw zucchini = 18 calories
– 2 cups raw zucchini = 36 calories

If your plate contains 2 cups of zucchini, 1 cup of bell pepper (30 calories), and 1 cup of onion (46 calories), the total calories just for the raw veggies would be:

– 2 cups zucchini: 36 calories
– 1 cup bell pepper: 30 calories
– 1 cup onion: 46 calories
– Total = 112 calories

For a typical dinner plate size with 6-8 ounces of grilled vegetables total, you’d likely end up in the 100-200 calorie range just for the veggies alone before any oil or seasonings.

Oil/Seasonings Used

Any oil or calorie-containing seasonings used in cooking will increase the calorie count. For example:

– 1 Tbsp olive oil: 119 calories
– 1 Tbsp butter: 102 calories
– 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce: 60 calories
– 1 Tbsp ranch dressing: 60 calories

So the total calories can go up quickly if your grilled vegetables are cooked with butter or oil and seasoned with sauces. It’s best to use a light coating of oil spray or stick to low calorie herb seasonings to keep the calories down.

Cooking Method

Grilling, roasting, sauteing, and stir frying are all healthy cooking methods for vegetables. Raw or steamed vegetables will be lowest in calories since no oil or butter is used. Grilled veggies are slightly higher in calories than raw or steamed since a small amount of oil may be used to prevent sticking. Deep frying significantly increases the calories from any vegetable.

Nutrition of Grilled Vegetables

Aside from being low in calories, grilled vegetables are highly nutritious. Some benefits include:

Rich in Vitamins and Minerals

Grilling preserves most of the natural vitamins and minerals found in raw vegetables. This includes:

– Vitamin C
– Vitamin K
– Folate
– Potassium
– Magnesium

These nutrients support immune function, bone health, DNA synthesis, and more. Grilling is lower in nutrient preservation than steaming, but higher than frying.

High in Fiber

The natural fiber in vegetables stays intact during grilling. Fiber promotes healthy digestion and may lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Contains Disease-Fighting Compounds

Grilled veggies retain antioxidants like carotenoids, which may help combat cancer and inflammation. Vegetables also contain polyphenols and flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

May Reduce Calorie Intake

Adding low-calorie grilled veggies to your plate can help fill you up so you eat less of higher calorie foods. One study found eating a first course salad reduced total meal calories by 12%.

Tips for Grilling Vegetables

You can follow these simple tips for making delicious and nutritious grilled vegetables at home:

1. Choose Firm, Sturdy Vegetables

Softer vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, and asparagus are great for grilling. Sturdier veggies like potatoes, eggplant, squash, bell peppers, and zucchini also hold up well.

2. Cut Pieces Evenly

Cut veggies into uniform pieces so they’ll cook at the same rate. Aim for pieces around 1/2 inch thick.

3. Coat Sparingly with Oil

Use just 1-2 tsp of olive oil or avocado oil per pound of veggies. Oil prevents sticking, but too much adds excess calories.

4. Season as Desired

Fresh or dried herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and chili powder are all tasty seasoning options. Measure out any oil-based sauces or dressings to control calories.

5. Grill Over Direct Heat

Use medium-high heat so the veggies char and caramelize for the best flavor. Grilling over direct heat gives the most flavor.

6. Flip Occasionally

Flip the vegetables every 2-3 minutes to ensure even cooking on all sides.

7. Check Doneness

Vegetables are done when fork-tender but not mushy. Grilling time varies from 2-8 minutes per side depending on thickness.

8. Allow to Rest

Let the grilled vegetables sit for 5 minutes before serving. This allows them to continue cooking from residual heat.

Low-Calorie Grilled Vegetable Recipes

Here are some flavorful recipe ideas for grilled vegetables under 200 calories per serving:

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

– Onions, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms
– Cherry tomatoes and lemon wedges for garnish
– Brush with mint pesto

Mexican Street Corn

– Grilled corn on the cob
– Top with cotija cheese, cilantro, and lime juice

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

– Eggplant, squash, bell peppers, red onion
– Drizzle with 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Grilled Vegetable Panini

– Grilled onions, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini
– Add mozzarella cheese on whole grain bread

Grilled Vegetable Lasagna

– Replace fried vegetables with grilled eggplant, zucchini, squash
– Layer between lasagna noodles and tomato sauce

Grilled Vegetable Pizzas

– Top pizza crusts with grilled zucchini, eggplant, peppers, mushrooms
– Sprinkle feta cheese

FAQs

Are grilled vegetables healthy?

Yes, grilled vegetables are a very healthy option. They are low in calories and contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and beneficial plant compounds. Grilling brings out delicious flavor with little added fat or calories compared to frying.

Which vegetables grill the best?

Good vegetables for grilling include: zucchini, squash, eggplant, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, and potatoes. Firmer vegetables hold up better on the grill.

Should you oil grilled vegetables?

It’s fine to brush or spray vegetables lightly with oil before grilling. Just 1-2 tsp oil per pound of vegetables prevents sticking. Too much oil will lead to excess calories.

What is the healthiest way to cook vegetables?

Steaming is generally considered the healthiest cooking method, followed by grilling, roasting, and sauteing with minimal oil. Frying adds the most oil and calories. Any homemade method trumps deep frying or high calorie restaurant dishes.

How long do you grill vegetables?

Grilling time depends on the vegetable type and thickness. In general, grill over medium high heat for 2-8 minutes per side until fork-tender. Zucchini, bell peppers, onions, and portobello mushrooms take about 4 minutes per side.

Conclusion

Grilled vegetables are a nutritious addition to any meal. While the calorie count depends on the veggies used and cooking method, a plateful will typically provide 100-200 calories along with valuable vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Choose a variety of firm, fresh vegetables, coat lightly in oil, and grill over medium-high heat until tender for maximum flavor and nutrition without excess calories. Enjoy grilled veggies as a side dish, on kabobs, in sandwiches, or atop pizza.