Healthy Grilling Tips

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Healthy Grilling Tips: Simple ways to deliver healthier foods to your family

As summer approaches, the lure of the barbecue grows strong. It's not just the taste of grilled food we find appealing', though that's certainly part of it, it's also the ritual of grilling outdoors, surrounded by friends and family on a grass-scented summer day that gets one yearning to fire up the grill. That's why I am always looking for healthy grilling tips.

Unfortunately, research has shown that grilling meats at high heat can cause the carcinogens heterocyclic amine (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form. What is a BBQ-er to do? Rather than hanging up one's spatulas and barbeque forks, simply follow these handy tips from the chefs at The Natural Gourmet Institute to cut down on carcinogens, and sizzle safely into summer!

Marinate on Marinade:
Everyone loves a good marinade, and it?s even more lovable now that research has shown that soaking meat in a lemon or vinegar-based marinade (high in antioxidants!) before grilling cuts down on carcinogens.

Using certain spices in marinades can also cut down on HCA formation. Red pepper, thyme, sage, garlic and rosemary can all help to lower carcinogen risk--and they have the added benefit of being incredibly delicious. Another beneficial marinade ingredient is red wine: we know red wine is full of antioxidants, and this carries over into marinades. Drinking a glass while marinating is also just fine!

Keep it Clean:
This one is simple: clean the grill. Use a stiff-wired brush to remove the build-up of carcinogens on the grill grates both before and after grilling. It's an easy precaution that makes food taste so much better too!

Grill Colorfully:
Red meat is a grilling staple, but it's also the most carcinogenic food at the barbecue. Mix it up by tempering the amount of red meat on the grill with ample amounts of asparagus, onions, zucchini, eggplant and corn on the cob. Portobello mushroom burgers are also a scrumptious addition.

For those who must have meat, try kabobs. Cubes of chicken or beef cooked with vegetables is a healthier, and still delicious, option (and don't forget to marinate them!)

Fruit on the grill may sound crazy crazy-good, that is. Apples, peaches, pears and bananas are all incredible when sliced in half and grilled for just a few minutes. Hot off the grill, top them with a dollop of frozen yogurt for a healthy and mouth-watering dessert. NGI always recommends choosing organically-raised, locally sourced meats and produce. It's better for one's health and the earth!

Partially Pre-Cook:
Pre-cook meats in the oven or on the stove just a bit before bringing it out to the grill, it will cut down on unnecessary grill time, but still get the grill flavor. Note: please be sure to put the partially-cooked meat on the preheated grill immediately, for safe food handling.

Fight Flare-Ups:
When melting fats drip on to the fire, the resultant flame and smoke is called a flare-up, and a troubling source of carcinogens. Prevent flare-ups by flipping meat and veggies often, keeping the heat low, and cutting off any excess fat from the meat. The fattier the meat, the bigger the flare!

Forget Well-Done:
The chefs at NGI would like to remove the term "well-done" from the grilling vocabulary once and for all. Simply put, the faster foods are cooked, the less likely they are to develop dangerous charring. Don't cook meat past its ideal temperature: 165 degrees for ground poultry; 160 degrees for ground red meats or mixtures and fresh pork; or 145 degrees for red-meat steaks or chops. To ensure that minimum cooking temperatures are met, invest in a meat thermometer.

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