It’s that time of year again.
Nearly everyone loves dining outdoors in the warm summer breeze with the sun shining, surrounded by family and friends. Grilling outdoors enables people to enjoy the summer weather while they reap the benefits of this healthy cooking method. But recent reports say that grilling can pose potential health risks.
It got me thinking about how to enjoy my favorite way to cook and still be intentional with lowering my health risks. Fortunately, when the correct steps are taken, harmful carcinogens can be minimized.
Grilling can be a great way to enjoy tasty meals while helping to lower your fat intake, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Grilling requires little to no added fats or oils, unlike frying and baking indoors. When grilling, excess fat drips from the meat and thus decreases its overall fat content. And pureed fruit, herbs, and spices can be used in place of high-fat ingredients to increase flavor and palatability.
Mindful Grilling Ideas:
- Explore Beyond Burgers and Dogs: Grilling isn’t just for hamburgers and hot dogs anymore. Almost any food can be grilled to perfection — the key is to be creative. Consider marinated zucchini slices, mesquite-grilled pizza, tuna steaks, and pineapple rings as delicious alternatives to traditional barbecue fare.
- Embrace Whole Fruits and Veggies: Grill fruits and vegetables with a tough protective skin, such as potatoes, onions, apricots, tomatoes, apples, or peppers. Coat them with a spray of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt, pepper, and your favorite spices. Lightly browning these items lets sugars caramelize and preserves their vitamin and mineral content. Enjoy the heightened flavors and nutrients.
- Mindful Cooking Techniques: Be aware of potential health risks associated with grilling, such as the formation of harmful compounds. Practice these mindful cooking techniques to reduce your cancer risk:
- Defrost or precook meats before grilling to minimize the time spent on the grill.
- Marinate your meat for at least 30 minutes to decrease the formation of harmful compounds. Join my FB Group, Living the B3 Way to Wellness to get my favorite recipes!
- Create a cool spot on the grill or turn off one burner to avoid flare-ups and excessive charring.
- Choose low-fat meats and use foil or a drop pan to prevent excess fat from falling into the flames.
- Slice foods to appropriate thickness for quicker and more controlled cooking.
- Apply sauces containing antioxidants to prevent charring. Try using citrus, cherry, pineapple, curry, and other spices that add flavor and protect you.
- Tie some long sprigs of rosemary and thyme and use it to apply marinades. Allow it to cook on the grill for 30 seconds before serving and then sprinkle on the finished foods.
- Cook foods at least 6 inches above burning coals and flames, if possible.
- Consider using a gas grill instead of charcoal to reduce flare-ups and harmful compounds.
By practicing mindfulness and adopting tiny habits like these when grilling, you can continue to enjoy delicious meals while minimizing potential health risks. Remember, small changes can make a big difference in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.