10 Healthy grilling tips to make your summer barbecues sizzle!

  • 4 Minutes Read

Why not start a new trend to help everyone get a little healthier? Learn some healthy grilling techniques for yummy, health-conscious meals.

Healthy grilling

Start a new trend with healthy grilling

Whether it's summer grilling season or you find yourself bundling up and grilling any time of year, it's a great time to start a new healthy grilling trend. Why not help everyone get healthier by adding some healthy grilling techniques to your barbecuing routine? A typical response might be, "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. What happens when you cook a large amount with all those leftovers to consume the following week? Get my point? Or, do you grill foods as part of your everyday cooking? Why not mix in some healthier food choices and grilling techniques that work for your health. You can then enjoy the healthier leftovers for 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, which are 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) 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 have experienced these cancers. I am always interested in tips for lowering the risk of cancer for my loved ones and me!

Healthy grilling is heart smart too!

Did you know that an estimated 18.2 million Americans at 20 years of age or older have coronary heart disease? Why not help lower these numbers by eating a heart-healthy diet, one of the American Heart Association's recommended seven approaches to stay heart healthy. You can take it to the grill by choosing leaner meats, increasing vegetables and herbs, and cooking with heart-smart fats.

10 tips for healthy grilling to trim your waistline and lower cancer and heart disease risk

The following ten tips emphasize healthier grilling to trim calories, lessen exposure to carcinogens, and lower your heart disease risk.

  1. Go with lean proteins. Less fat means less smoke. Less smoke means less carcinogen formation. Instead, choose to grill chicken, turkey, fish, lean beef, lean pork, veggie burgers, or tofu more often than hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, brats, and ribs.

  2. 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 an excellent activity for getting the kids involved.

  3. Add flavor and moisture to meat with marinades. Marinating meat before grilling can create an incredibly flavorful protective barrier between the meat and grill heat. Also, such herbs as basil, oregano, and rosemary may also reduce carcinogen formation.

  4. Incorporate healthy, lighter marinades using citrus juices, herbs, spices, and vinegars in order to decrease fat and calories.

  5. Marinating with dry rubs is also great for tenderizing meats. Two of my favorite dry rub recipes are at the end of this blog. 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. Trim off charred sections because they are the largest source of carcinogens. Baking or microwaving the meat prior for a brief time before grilling reduces carcinogen formation by reducing grilling time. Trim any visible fat from meat before grilling to trim calories, saturated fat, and lessen the carcinogens formed.

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

  8. Keep meat away from direct flames. If your grill flares up, spray it with water, cover with the lid, or move the food to another part of the grill until the fire dies down.

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

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

Many people appreciate healthy grilling

We often assume that those eating barbecued meals are looking for a rich and traditional experience. Trust me, I have worked with people from all walks of life and know many people who 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 add flavor to chicken, fish, pork, or sprinkled on vegetables.

Herb Grill Rub

2 Tbsp dried rosemary
2 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp dried tarragon
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
Yield: 6 Tbsp

Mediterranean Herb Rub

- a Mediterranean seasoning for chicken that also tastes great on fish, pork, tofu, or even sprinkled on 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, just measure out herbs and shake together in a sealed container. You can use about 2 teaspoons of the mixture per pound on uncooked chicken, meat, or tofu. Or you can sprinkle either blend on vegetables after brushing them with olive oil.

For maximum flavor, rub the seasoning mix on the uncooked poultry, meat, fish, or tofu, then place in a resealable plastic bag or covered container and refrigerate for about 2 hours before grilling. I love to store unused herb mix in a tightly covered container, away from heat, for future use.

These 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.

Also, did you know that if you have MyNetDiary Premium membership, you can now send a Premium recipe to another user, even if they do not have Premium membership? Simply scroll down to the bottom of the screen when in a recipe and hit the "share" button. You can also "copy & customize" and "print" a Premium recipe. There are plenty of amazing Mediterranean recipes in the MyNetDiary Premium recipe collection! Check it out!

Still new to MyNetDiary? Learn more today by downloading the app for FREE.

Updated June 16, 2020

Foods & Recipes->Red Meat Holidays / Parties->July 4th / Independence Day
Jun 17, 2020
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)

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