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Published: Thursday, 8/7/2008

Organic Grilling Spices Up Outdoor Fare

(ARA) - Grilling isn't just for summer celebrations anymore. No matter what your culinary preferences -- from traditional mega-cookouts at the park to health-conscious quick meals -- grilling has something delicious to offer for everyone.

More than 75 percent of Americans say they own at least one grill, with an increasing number of households boasting two, according to Joanne Hayes, a nationally recognized magazine food editor, TV recipe developer and food historian.

Enthusiasm for the traditional warm-weather cookout has carried over into booming popularity for indoor built-in and portable-countertop grilling units, as well as simple in-oven grilling and rotisserie techniques. Grilling has become a popular option even for those who cook one-person meals or have living arrangements that don't lend themselves to outdoor grilling.

In response to this trend, new varieties of seasonings, rubs and marinades have arrived on store shelves, adding convenience, versatility, no-mess food preparation and robust flavors to grilled dishes. Many seasonings can be rubbed on prior to cooking or shaken on over the grill -- adding succulent flavor in mere minutes, or even seconds, of preparation time.

Organic grilling? Hayes points out that consumers are pickier about the meat, fish and poultry they're selecting for the main course, often looking for "free-range," "grass-fed," "wild-caught" and "organic" items for the first time. Overall, organic meat, poultry and seafood sales grew 32 percent last year. More health-conscious consumers are choosing meatless and vegetarian options, too -- and they're not about to be left out of the grilling experience.

The experts at Simply Organic Grilling Seasons offer this recipe to add to any summer barbeque repertoire:

Barbecue Bell Pepper Spread/Dip

3 cups finely diced red and yellow bell peppers (one large pepper of each color)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese

2 packages Grilling Seasons Mesquite Barbecue Marinade Mix

Crackers or chips of your choice

Directions: Place a sheet of foil on grill. Brush with oil and add peppers. Grill for five to 10 minutes, until peppers start to turn golden brown. While peppers are grilling, place cream cheese in a large bowl. When peppers are ready, pour grilled peppers (no need to cool) over cream cheese and add the Mesquite BBQ Marinade Mix. Stir until completely blended. Serve warm or chilled with crackers or chips. (Makes 8 servings)

As prepared, each serving contains 70 calories, 3.5 g of fat, 15 mg of cholesterol, 270 mg of sodium, 4 g of carbohydrates and 2 g of protein. Courtesy of ARAcontent



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