Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine
Photo: Pulled Pork-less BBQ Sandwich

by Robert Walker, Program Director at ‘Ekahi

Pictured: Pulled Pork-less BBQ Sandwich (recipe below)

Wellness Tips Adapted from Ornish Living Magazine

Memorial Day is an important day of remembrance – but also one of gathering. A classic American tradition is getting together for a family barbecue or picnic – and with summer approaching, there is no better time to be outdoors!

But if you’re in search of a heart-healthy meal – don’t walk away from the grill just yet. The American Heart Association advocates eating grilled food – especially if you’re using heart-healthy ingredients. Grilling adds no fat to your favorite dishes while intensifying the flavor. Relative to fried food, grilled food has substantially less cholesterol and fat.

Here are grilling instructions for some common heart-healthy vegetables:

Corn: Soak in water and leave on husks.
Grill Time: 45 minutes
Grilled Flavor Boost: Sprinkle with smoked paprika

Eggplant: Cut crosswise in ½-inch slices.
Grill Time: 12 minutes
Grilled Flavor Boost: Drizzle with balsamic glaze

Mushrooms: Take off stem and trim.
Grill Time: Depends on the size, 10-30 minutes (for portobello, 15 minutes on each side)
Grilled Flavor Boost: Drizzle with balsamic vinegar mixed with minced or roasted garlic

Tomatoes: Thread cherry tomatoes on a skewer or slice a juicy garden tomato.
Grill Time: 5-7 minutes

Onion: Cut into ½-inch slices, secure with toothpicks
Grill Time: 10-15 minutes
Grilled Flavor Boost: Balsamic glaze or toss first in lime juice and salt or add spices

Summer Squash: Cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices.
Grill Time: 5 minutes per side
Grilled Flavor Boost: Add balsamic glaze

Peppers (Bell or Hot): Cut lengthwise or into quarters.
Grill Time: 10 minutes or longer to blacken, bringing out a rich smoky flavor
Grilled Flavor Boost: Add balsamic glaze

Potatoes (Baby Red, Sweet or Yams): Cut in half; wrap in foil and seal edges.
Grill Time: 30 minutes
Grilled Flavor Boost: Toss with fresh herbs such as chives

If you’re looking to get more creative with your dishes, try grilling fruit! Grilled watermelon is a dish that owes its recent popularity to being featured on various cooking shows -- the grill caramelizes the outside of the melon and adds a smoky flavor. Grilled jackfruit is also commonly used in plant-based recipes as a substitute for pulled pork. Hawaiian pulled pork sandwiches are an island institution – but we’d wager even its most loyal fans will be surprised by how close this dish tastes to the real thing.  See our recipe online at: https://www.ekahiornish.com/recipe/pulled-pork-less-bbq-sandwich/

Jackfruit is most commonly found in Chinatown, as well as at Frankie’s Nursery in Waimanalo.

As summer approaches, remember that the time we spend gathering with our family and friends isn’t just important to them – it’s important for our own heart, too. Studies show that spending time socializing with those close to us can increase your happiness, improve your cognitive ability, and extend your life. And there’s no better way to socialize and relax than spending a pleasant summer’s day cooking on the grill.


‘Ekahi Health, a member of the ‘ike family of companies (www.ikehawaii.com), is an innovative healthcare delivery organization that provides comprehensive community-based care focusing on primary care and prevention and wellness. It was the first organization to offer the Ornish program to the people of Hawaii.

For more information about ‘Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, visit www.ekahiornish.com and follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.