Summer is here and that means it’s time to move our cooking outside as often as possible to get out of the hot kitchen. We often think that grilling is automatically healthier, but that is not always the case. Between sweet and calorie-packed sauces and dangerous carcinogens, there are some things that we need to beware of. So before you fire up your grill again, we have gathered some helpful tips and tricks to help you have a healthier and leaner barbecue.
KEEP IT HEALTHY
When grilling there are specific ways to minimize the amount of carcinogens in your food. PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and HCAs (heterocyclic amines) are substances found in the burnt, charred parts of meat, and even though this may be the tastiest part, carcinogens can create unnatural cell metabolic reactions that are believed to cause cancer.
One way that to reduce this dangerous char while grilling is by marinating your meat. Certain spices, oils and even red wine or beer can provide antioxidants that are packed with nutrients. Including garlic and onions in your marinade may help reduce the HCA formation. Also, the marinade will create a barrier between the meat and the heat of the grill. Aim for marinating your meat 2-4 hours and brush a little bit of marinade on the meat before you serve it for an extra jolt of antioxidants.
Marinade is great but do not confuse this with thick and sugary sauces. When certain sauces that are packed with sugar are slathered onto the meat before being placed on the grill, the sauce can drip into the fire, causing larger flames and charring your meat. Save the thick sauces for after you grill or try to avoid them all together.
KEEP IT LEAN
Go for zest and add those bold flavors. When selecting those marinades, go for big bold flavors that don’t add a lot of extra calories. Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and chili sauce are great choices.
Get more fruits and veggies on that grill. We tend to think that grills are just meant for meat, but fruits and vegetables seem to taste so much better grilled. Creating kabobs is a great way to get you (and your family) eating more vegetables.
Try grilling a few of these:
Asparagus- Just trim the white end throw them on for a few minutes until they have the grill marks.
Mushrooms- Put small mushrooms on skewers and of course you can grill big portabellas like a burger or slice them and grill as a condiment or delicious side dish.
Eggplant- Cut them lengthwise and place on the grill.
Corn on the cob- remove the husks to avoid flaming and then place on the grill for 8-10 minutes.
Squash- cut into quarter inch rounds and placed over the heat for a few minutes.
For a tasty dessert, skip the heavy calorie-laden sweets and try throwing different fruits such as pineapples or juicy peaches on the grill.
Remove the skin from chicken BEFORE you grill. We know that removing the skin will cut the fat in half and reduce the calories, but if you grill with the skin and then remove it before eating you will lose all of the zesty goodness you added in your rubs, sauces or marinades, leaving you with a more bland piece of chicken. So remove the skin before you spice it up.
So get outdoors this summer, focus on making this your healthiest grilling season yet, and if you have a great summer grilling recipe, we’d love to have you share it with us here or on our social media channels.