10 Ways You Can Keep Your Grilling Habit Healthy & Delicious

  • 3 Minutes Read
  • Jul 2, 2018

Why not start a new trend to help get America a little healthier? Learn some summer grilling techniques for healthy and tasty meals.

10 Ways You Can Keep Your Grilling Habit Healthy & Delicious

This month, we celebrate Independence Day. This is a great time to start a new trend toward helping America get healthier by introducing healthy grilling techniques to your barbequing routine. A typical response might be, "How can you have a traditional, patriotic celebration without grilling hamburgers and hot dogs?" OK, if you want to indulge in these foods occasionally, go for it. But, think about it. What happens when you have all those leftovers to consume over the following week, then you have other celebrations throughout the summer? Get my point? Also, you might grill foods as part of your everyday cooking. Why not mix in some healthier food choices and grilling techniques. You can then nosh on the healthier leftovers the rest of the week.

The following ten tips actually emphasize healthier grilling to lessen exposure to cancer-causing agents, called carcinogens. However, these tips will not only lower your cancer risk, but will also help trim the calories and lead to healthier eating as a bonus.

Did you know that grilling meats may increase cancer risk? Yes, chemicals, known as carcinogens (cancer-causing agents), such as HCA and PAH are formed when fatty meats come in contact with intense heat and flame. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that "high consumption of well-done, fried, or barbecued meats is associated with an increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer." Not sure about you, but I know so many people who struggle with cancer! I am always interested in tips for lowering the risk of cancer for me and my loved ones!

10 Tips to Decrease Carcinogens when Grilling (from the National Cancer Institute):

  1. Go with lean proteins. Less fat means less smoke. Less smoke means less carcinogen formation. Grill chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, lean pork or bison more often than hot dogs, hamburgers, brats and ribs.

  2. Moisten the meat with marinades. Marinating meats before grilling can create a protective barrier between the meats and grill heat. Also, herbs, such as basil, oregano, and rosemary may also reduce carcinogen formation.

  3. Use healthy, lighter marinades based on citrus, juice, herbs, spices and vinegars. According to the NCI, marinating for at least one hour lowers carcinogen formation.

  4. Dry marinades are also great for tenderizing meats. Two of my favorite dry rub recipes are at the end of this blog. Safety tip: never reuse marinades or rubs after they are on meats.

  5. Avoid overcooking meats. Cut off charred sections because they are the largest source of carcinogens. Boiling or microwaving the meat prior to grilling reduces carcinogen formation by reducing grilling time. Trim any visible fat from meats before grilling so that you lessen carcinogens formed.

  6. Turn meat often over a high heat to reduce charring rather than just leaving the meat cooking on the grill.

  7. Keep meats away from direct flames. If your grill flares up, spray with water or move the food to another part of the grill until the fire dies down.

  8. Grill plenty of vegetables and fruits. Unlike meats, they do not create carcinogens when charred. Grilling corn, sweet peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, onions, potatoes, pineapple and peaches brings out the natural flavors! Vegetable and fruit kabobs are fun to make and a great activity for getting the kids involved.

  9. Keep the grill clean. Scrub it with a brush before and after grilling to decrease the amount of charred debris that sticks to meat.

  10. Cook meat quickly for less charring. Remove poultry when it reaches 165 degrees F, ground beef and pork at 160 degrees F, and steak at 145 degrees F

We often assume that those eating our grilled foods are looking for a rich and traditional experience. Trust me, I have worked with people from all walks of life and know that many of us have reasons and a desire for healthy eating. Many people find it refreshing when healthier options are served from the grill!

Here are two super easy, salt-free dry rubs that are great on chicken, fish, pork, or sprinkled on vegetables.

Herb Grill Rub

Yield: 6 Tbsp

Mediterranean Herb Rub

Yield: 4 Tbsp

Mix together herbs by shaking together in a sealed container. Use about 2 tsp of the mixture per pound of uncooked meat; 1 tsp per pound of chicken or fish. Sprinkle on vegetables after brushing them with olive oil. For maximum flavor, rub the seasoning mix on the uncooked meat, then place in a resealable plastic bag or covered container and refrigerate for 2 hours prior to grilling. Store unused herb mix in a tightly covered container, away from heat, for future use.

Anyone can copy these recipes from "Dietitian" in MyNetDiary. Login to MyNetDiary's web program, go to Community, and then search "Dietitian" with "People" chosen in the drop down box. Click on "Dietitian" link. Scroll down Dietitian Personal Page and find Custom Catalog. Find the recipe names. Copy recipe by clicking "copy" link on the right side of the screen. Once you do that, you can use that recipe in your own food log without having to enter it yourself. It is easy to search for that recipe if you use "from dietitian" in your name search thereafter.

If you have Maximum membership, you can copy and customize recipes or foods from other members. In web program, go to Food tab, tap "Log" in any meal row, then tap MyFoods, find the food or recipe and then choose "copy & customize" option. You can modify any field to fully customize the recipe (ingredients, yield, name, etc.).

Updated: March 26, 2019

Foods & Recipes->Red Meat Holidays / Parties->July 4th / Independence Day
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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