Guidelines For Healthier Grilling

April 5, 2014


Welcome the warmer weather by getting out and firing up the grill for delicious, healthy meals. Grilling is a great way to create mouth watering meals that offer nutritious, healthy alternatives to processed carry-out options.

Trim the fat, reduce carcinogens

When fat cooks it melts and drips. Those fatty drips cause flames to flare and create excess smoke when grilling. This combination can lead to carcinogen formation and carcinogens can be cancer causing. If you choose leaner cuts of meat (think loin and round,) you will have less fat to trim but you will still have fantastically delicious meat.

Avoid excessive charring

Those pesky carcinogens really can play havoc with the desire to grill healthy yet tasty food. Studies have concluded that regularly eating charred or well-done, grilled meat can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by up to 60 percent. When you char the meat, cooking it at extreme high temperatures, it causes the chemicals HCA and PAH to form. These are carcinogens and are dangerous to your health.


Get heart healthy with grilled fish

Grilled salmon, halibut, trout, tuna steaks and even tilapia are great proteins to include in a healthy meal plan. Fish with omega-3 fatty acids are considered heart-healthy and are ideal choices for the grill. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish weekly. Grill fish in a foil packet with fresh lemon and herbs, on a cedar plank for bold flavors or directly on the grilling rack.

De-skin for a skinnier meal

Chicken breasts are one of the easiest and palette pleasing meals to make on the grill. Even the pickiest kid eaters enjoy grilled chicken, which is a great blank canvas for the creative home cook. Chicken breasts can be flavored and spiced in hundreds of ways, allowing you to create the perfect taste for your mood.

However, the chicken skin is mostly fat and removing it helps to reduce fat, calories and cholesterol. Worried about it tasting too dry? Try marinades for flavor and moistness.

Increase veggie volume

The grill is for more than cooking succulent meat. Your grill can transform ordinary garden vegetables into extraordinary side dishes and even entrees.

Vegetables ideal for grilling include zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers (any color), carrots and cauliflower.

When grilling vegetables in tin foil, a vegetable pan or on skewers, be sure to cut into chunks for easier grilling. Extra small pieces on a skewer will fall off while cooking.

Practice safe grilling: don’t make the guests sick

Grilling safety goes beyond keeping little ones away from hot surfaces. Keep your diners safe from food poisoning by always separating meat, fish and vegetables, juices from raw meat, poultry and fish should never touch the vegetables or other food being served.

Never place grilled meats back onto the plate that held the raw meat or use the same utensil that touched any raw proteins. Always use a meat thermometer to check internal temperature of meat, fish and poultry and cook to recommended temperatures set by the USDA for food safety.