I certainly do not want to throw water on a favorite social past time and I don't plan to! Instead, I have for you a few small measures you can take to counteract what science has been telling us about the bad effects of grilling our foods. Come take a look and get on with hosting your best barbecue -- the healthy way!
Why Grilling Can Be Bad For Your Health
- Grilling and pan frying can cause the harmful cancer-causing chemicals heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form when meats like beef, pork, fish or poultry are cooked using high-temperature methods.
- These compounds are the same as those found in cigarette smoke. And we already know how unhealthy that is.
- The formation of HCAs and PAHs varies by meat type, cooking method, and how long the food has been grilled or cooked. Meats cooked at high temperatures, especially above 300ºF (as in grilling or pan frying), or that are cooked for a long time tend to form more HCAs.
8 Easy Tips To Grill The Healthy Way
1. Give it a soak.
Adding several antioxidant-rich foods to marinades counteracts those DNA damaging compounds nicely. Reach for foods like these when grilling:
- Add spices to your dishes such as turmeric, garlic and sage when creating a marinade.
- Fresh herbs like rosemary and parsley are strong counterparts.
- Yogurt and olive oil make great bases for effective marinades as well as wine and especially beer and stout ale.
- Fresh fruit such as grapes, cherries, prunes, blackberries and blueberries are great antioxidants to add as well.
2. Add Vitamin E.
Some studies have shown 400 I.U. from a vitamin E capsule rubbed in the meat can counteract HCA and PHA formation.
4. Flip often.
Turn the meat over often to avoid too much charring.
5. Include lots of fruits and vegetables!
Those wonderful colorful veggies offer a free pass. There is no HCA and PHA formation when grilling vegetables. Serving some fruits like apples or pineapple alongside the grilled items can counterbalance the harmful compounds, too.
Don't miss this: You should try some of these healthy vegetable recipes.
6. Choose foods wisely.
Skinless chicken creates 50 percent less risk of HCA and PHA formation. Fish and seafood tend to form much lower levels of cancerous compounds as well.
7. What you drink can help, too.
Go ahead and tip your glass for a few suds as stout ale has been shown to be a most effective neutralizer of HCAs in red meat. Green tea is the non-alcoholic beverage of choice with grilled items as well. They both make great marinades as well for taste and to reduce the dangerous compounds from forming.
Don't miss this: Lots of ideas for hundreds of healthy drink ideas at your fingertips!
8. Choose natural charcoal.
Avoid self-lighting charcoal and lighter fluid as they contain harmful petroleum products which can be absorbed into what you are grilling.
Don't miss this: Follow my Pinterest board completely dedicated to healthy grilling!
Top Tools To Create Your Perfectly Healthy Barbecue
1. Mini Lantern Set: Can't have a party without festive lighting. These strands are adorable and great for an outdoor barbecue to liven things up!
2. Silicone Grill Brush: Gotta use one of these to baste those tasty and healthy marinades on your foods!
3. Quilted Hammock: Your friends and family will love you for setting up a comfortable hammock like this one. It screams summer outdoors and fun times!
4. Natural Charcoal: No chemicals here to add toxicity to your beautiful healthy meals!
5. Drink Dispenser: Let everyone serve themselves with a great drink dispenser for that tasty green tea sangria (recipe below!).
6. Grill pan: Throw those critical veggies in here to keep it easy and not let them fall through the grates!
Two Healthy Barbecue Recipes
1. Green Tea Sangria (Non-Alcoholic)
- 7 green tea bags
- 7 cups filtered water
- 2 cups blackberries, blueberries and pitted cherries combined
- 1 green apple sliced
- optional: 2 tablespoons or so of maple syrup or raw honey
- fresh mint
- Place tea bags in pitcher or container that can tolerate almost boiling water.
- Boil the water just under the boil and pour over tea bags to steep for 5 - 10 minutes.
- While tea is steeping, slice apple and rinse berries and cherry pieces.
- Remove tea bags after the tea is reached desired strength.
- Add fruit and maple syrup or honey, if using.
- Stir and allow to cool and for flavors to mesh.
- Serve over ice and garnish with sprigs of mint.
2. Grilled Chicken with Spiced Yogurt
- 1 pound boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs
- 1.5 cups organic plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 small cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
- 1.5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- few bits of lemon peel grated
- 1/4 cup minced, fresh parsley
- Combine yogurt with turmeric, cumin, garlic, oregano, rosemary, lemon juice and lemon peel.
- Stir well to make the marinade.
- Set aside half of mixture for sauce and refrigerate in a glass container.
- Cover chicken pieces well with remaining marinade and refrigerate for at least a few hours but overnight is better.
- Grill chicken until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Cover and let it rest for five minutes.
- Sprinkle with minced parsley.
- Serve with extra set-aside marinade as dipping sauce.
For Even More On The Topic . . .
- Brush up on which healthy cooking oils you should use in your kitchen and on the grill.
- Here is why I choose maple syrup as a sweetener like I do in the Green Tea Sangria above.
Jump in! Do you have a favorite healthy grilling recipe to share? Please do and provide a link in the comments!