Summer is upon us which to me, means it’s grilling season! Grilling meats, vegetables, and even fruits helps to increase the flavor profile resulting in an extra scrumptious meal with fewer dishes to clean! Win win situation, right?
In recent years, many people have been concerned about the possibility of increasing carcinogens in foods by grilling them. This does not mean you have to ban grilling forever! Follow these tips to ensure safe and healthy grilled meals.
1. Use Lean Cuts of Meat
When a fatty piece of meat is grilled, the fat drips down into the flames resulting in a flare up and smoke. The resulting smoke is often considered the main culprit for any added carcinogens from grilling.
To combat this, grill with leaner cuts of meat most often like chicken, shrimp, ground turkey, or even vegetarian alternatives. There is also the option to trim off any excess fat prior to cooking. Not only does this help create a safer grilling environment, but it reduces the saturated fat content making it more heart healthy.
2. Use a Clean Grill
Always scrub down your grilling surface prior to adding your food. No one wants old char on their food from last week's grilling session. The easiest way to do this is to let your grill heat up and then use a wire grill brush or a crumpled up piece of foil to scrub away any leftover bits.
3. Enhance Flavor with a Marinade
Marinating your meats not only increases the flavor and tenderness, but it has been shown to greatly reduce the amount of carcinogens. A recent study from Kansas State University found the benefits of using a meat marinade with varying types of oils and vinegars consistently reduced carcinogens by up to 88%.
Marinating doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. If you’re in a hurry, simply put your meat in a sealed bag with a small amount of olive oil, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt/pepper, oregano, or other spices of your preference. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes and grill!
4. Stay Food Safe
Always ensure you are keeping yourself and your food safe from harmful bacteria.
-Wash your hands often, especially after touching raw meats.
-Use clean utensils and surfaces when transferring cooked foods from the grill to the table
-Always cook meats to their safe internal cooking temperatures, for example ground beef should reach 160 degrees to ensure all harmful bacteria have been eliminated. Use a food stem thermometer to ensure your meats are cooked to their perfect temperature.
For a comprehensive list of cooking temperatures CLICK HERE
5. Grill Your Entire Meal
Grilling is definitely not reserved for meats only. Grilled vegetables and even fruits can make a great addition to any meal. They help add great flavor and essential nutrients.
-Make grilling skewers with marinated meats paired with pieces of vegetables like mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and more.
-Use a specialized grill pan/basket to saute your favorite summer veggies. Simply toss your favorite vegetables in a little olive oil and salt/pepper and the grill will do the cooking for you.
-Grill pieces of pineapple or halves of stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums) for an amazing dessert. The heat from the grill will caramelize the natural sugars creating an extra sweet and healthy treat.
Post by: Abby Douglas, RD, LD
RanDee Anshutz is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Massage Therapist practicing in Bend, Oregon. As a Health at Every Size (HAES) provider she strives to help EVERYONE in EVERY BODY achieve optimal health.