Healthy Summer Grilling


The warm summer weather calls for less time in the kitchen and more time outside cooking on the grill. However, the way that grilled food is prepared can have an effect on how healthy it is. Here are some tips to ensure a tasty and healthy cookout.

Turn Down the Heat. When meat is cooked at scorching temperatures, it often chars, and this causes the development of cancer-causing substances called heterocyclic amines. In order to keep charring to a minimum, it is important to lower the temperature and increase the length of time that the food is cooked. Think: low and slow. Furthermore, another method that can reduce or prevent charring is flipping food frequently.

Trim the Fat. As your meat is cooking, the fat can drip onto the grill’s flame, which causes it to flare up. The flame and smoke that result from this flare up contain compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have been linked to cancer. To prevent this, trim the fat from your meat before cooking it, and remove the skin from chicken and fish. Additionally, in order to prevent flaring, cook outside the flame instead of directly over it.

Marinate. To minimize the cancer-linked substances that can result from grilling, marinate the meat for at least half an hour before grilling it. Ingredients that are acidic, like vinegar, lemon juice, or orange juice are especially effective.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies. Instead of animal proteins, try grilling fruits and vegetables for a different flavor. Fruits and vegetables are also less likely to form carcinogens at high temperatures, so not only are you cutting cancer-causing substances from your meal, but you are adding cancer-fighting phytochemicals as well. Grill a veggie or Portobello mushroom burger in place of a beef burger, or make kabobs out of tomatoes, onions, squash, and peppers. For a naturally sweet desert, grill pineapple, peaches, or nectarines.

Keep It Clean. Make sure to keep your food safe by discarding any unused marinade and using clean utensils and plates for the cooked food. It is also important to clean your grill and be sure that it has not come in contact with any lighter fluid or charcoal, which also hold harmful substances. When using the grill-cleaning brush, be sure that there are no loose bristles that can fall onto the grates and potentially stick to the food in your next barbeque.

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