by Megan Daugherty
Summer's the perfect time to get out your grill - and makes some of the healthiest, tastiest dishes! Try these tips for your next cookout.
Tips for Healthy Grilling
- Trim excess fats from foods. These fats are the troublemaker so keep it to a minimum.
- Use marinades based on olive oils and/or citrus juices.
- Avoid flare-ups. Flare-ups burn foods and this increases PAH formation (defined below).
- Don't overcook foods. Charred bits on foods are the largest sources of PAHs - so if you have charred sections, cut them off.
- Use herbs like basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage to add flavor and reduce PAH formation in foods.
- Use a grilling basket or pan to grill vegetables and fruits.
- You can grill almost anything! Fruits, vegetables, meats, bread, pizza - the ideas are endless! Get creative and start up your grill. Or try some of these delicious grilling recipes!
A Few Cautions to Take When Grilling
Carcinogenic substances (A.K.A. cancer-causing substances) called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be produced when food is burnt or overheated. The level of PAHs in food increases with higher temperatures and longer cooking times.
The National Cancer Institute reports that cancers of the colon, digestive system and stomach are associated with high intake of charred or burned meats.
Scary, right? Yes, there seem to be a lot of scares of foods, chemicals and other items that could cause cancer - but the point is, you can do something about it by minimizing your risk to these substances.
Risk minimization tips:
- Avoid using excessive heat during roasting, grilling, toasting and frying.
- Avoid char-grilled meats.
- If you must salvage accidentally burnt food, try to cut off or remove the burnt pieces before eating.
Temperatures of Meat:
Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry and egg dishes to prevent food-borne illness and avoid overcooking food. USDA recommended minimum internal temperatures are:
- Raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts - at least 145°F
- Raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal - at least 160°F
- All poultry - 165°F
- Casseroles and egg dishes - 140°F or cold dishes at 40°F
- Most fish - 140°F
Marinade Brushing Cooked Meat:
Many grillers (including my Dad) enjoy pouring or brushing the leftover marinade on top of the already cooked meat before taking it off the grill to give the meat more flavor and make it juicer. This is not a good idea! The leftover marinade was once the marinade that your RAW meat was soaking in, which means you’re now pouring raw meat juices and contaminating the already cooked meat. Doing this can cause you to contract a food-borne illness like E. coli, Salmonella or Campylobacter jejuna.
This summer, grill tasty and safe food!