10 Healthy grilling tips for summer or year-round barbecuing!

  • 3 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

Whether it's summer grilling season or you find yourself bundling up and grilling year-round, why not add some healthy grilling techniques to your barbecuing routine?

Healthy grilling

Start a new trend with healthy grilling

What's wrong with grilling hamburgers and hot dogs? OK, if you want to indulge in these foods occasionally, go for it. But think about it. You may think one weekly indulgence is no big deal, but when you eat the leftovers for another few days, what does that do to your body and overall health?

Make the smart move toward more wholesome food choices and use grilling tips and tricks of the trade that work for you and your guests' health, not against it. If you adopt a new trend toward healthy grilling, your body will thank you, and those types of leftovers let you create salads, soups, and other tasty dishes the rest of the week.

Healthy grilling can lower your cancer risk

Did you know that eating a large amount of grilled and smoked fatty meats may increase cancer risk? Chemicals, such as HCA and PAH, known as carcinogens or cancer-causing agents, are formed when fatty meats come in contact with intense heat and flame. PAH compounds are the same compounds found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) informs us that high consumption of well-done, fried, or barbecued meats is associated with an increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. So, why not practice some grilling techniques that lower cancer risk for yourself and your loved ones?

Healthy grilling is heart smart, too!

Did you know that an estimated 126.9 million Americans (roughly 49.2%) at 20 years of age or older have cardiovascular disease? You can help lower these numbers by eating a heart-healthy diet. Take it to the grill by choosing leaner meats, increasing vegetables and herbs, and cooking with heart-smart fats.

10 grilling tips and techniques that will work for your health and waistline

1. Go with lean proteins

Less fat means less smoke. Less smoke means fewer carcinogens. Grill chicken, turkey, seafood, lean beef, lean pork, veggie burgers, or tofu more often than hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, brats, and ribs.

2. Pile on grilled vegetables and fruits

Unlike meats, veggies and fruit do not create carcinogens when charred. Grilling corn, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, onions, zucchini, pineapple, and peaches brings out their natural flavors! Vegetable and fruit kabobs are fun to make and an excellent activity for getting the kids involved.

3. Add flavor and moisture with marinades

Marinating meat before grilling can create a flavorful and protective barrier between the meat and grill heat. Also, herbs such as basil, oregano, and rosemary may reduce carcinogen formation.

4. Incorporate healthy, lighter marinades

Use citrus juices, herbs, spices, and your favorite kind of vinegar for both flavor and body-benefitting grilling. According to the NCI, marinating for at least one hour lowers carcinogen formation.

5. Marinate with dry rubs

Turn to dry rubs for tenderizing meats. Dry rubs are much lower in calories than fat-based marinades. Safety tip: Never reuse marinades or rubs after they have come in contact with raw meat.

6. Avoid overcooking meat

Trimming off charred sections removes the largest source of carcinogens. Baking or microwaving the meat prior for a brief time before grilling reduces carcinogen formation by reducing grilling time. Trimming visible fat from meat before grilling serves three roles-trims calories, lowers saturated fat, and drops carcinogen count.

7. Turn meat often over high heat

As you turn meat frequently on the grill, less charring forms, making it healthier and sealing the juices.

8. Keep meat away from direct flames

If your grill flares up, spray flames with water, close the lid, or move the food to another part of the grill until the fire dies down.

9. Cook meat to just the right temperature for less charring

Remove poultry from the grill when it reaches 165 F, ground beef and pork at 160F, and steak at 145F.

10. Keep the grill clean

Scrub your grill grates with a brush before and after grilling to decrease the amount of charred debris that sticks to foods.

2 super-easy, salt-free dry rubs

Herb Grill Rub

This salt-free, dry rub flavors chicken, fish, or lean pork. Bonus: This seasoning mix tastes excellent sprinkled on vegetables.

2 tbsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried tarragon
1 tbsp ground black pepper

Yield: 6 tbsp

Mediterranean Herb Rub

A salt-free dry rub, this Mediterranean seasoning for chicken, fish, pork, tofu also complements veggies.

1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dried, crushed rosemary
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper

Yield: 4 tbsp

To make these two spice blends, measure out herbs and shake together well in a sealed container or bag. Use about 2 teaspoons of mixture per pound of uncooked chicken, meat, or tofu. Get creative with adjusting the amounts of herb combinations to suit your taste. Or you can sprinkle either blend on vegetables after brushing them with olive oil.

Rub the seasoning mix on the uncooked poultry, meat, fish, or tofu. For maximum flavor, place the seasoned meat in a resealable plastic bag or covered container and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes before grilling. You can also store unused (and untouched) herb mix in a tightly covered container, away from heat, for future use.

These two recipes have been shared with all MyNetDiary users under the user name "Dietitian" in MyNetDiary. Here is a link to learn more about the "recipe share" feature, along with other tips for entering, editing, and sharing recipes in MyNetDiary.

Many people appreciate healthy grilling

We often assume family and friends eating barbecued meals are looking for a rich and traditional experience. In fact, many people have healthy lifestyle goals and a desire for healthy dishes. So, don't be surprised when you get accolades for serving healthier grilled options!

Other healthier grilling inspirations

A few highlights of many healthy grilling recipes from the MyNetDiary Premium recipe collection

Pork Loin with Dry Grill Rub
-this recipe features the Herb Grill Rub found above

Shrimp Skewers with Pesto

Green Chile Turkey Burgers

Grilled Eggplant with Colorful Summer Squash

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Foods & Recipes->Red Meat Holidays / Parties->July 4th / Independence Day
Aug 20, 2021
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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