Grilling is a healthy way to prepare foods and is popular during the summer months.
Be aware of how to avoid the cancer causing compounds associated with grilling. The carcinogens, Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), form when fat from meat is heated to high temperatures or when the fat drips into the flames.
To minimize this risk, have lean cuts of meat, poultry or fish and trim away excess fat before grilling. To lessen how long the meat stays on the grill, pre-cook it in the microwave for up to one minute. Marinade helps blunt the heat from grilling so fewer cancer-causing compounds form.
Select healthy meats like lean or extra lean ground beef (90 – 95% lean), lean turkey burger (be sure it’s all white meat), veggie burger, or nitrate free turkey dogs. Remove the skin on poultry to reduce fat content by half.
To keep lower fat beef moist, grate small amount of a potato and add it in the center of the burger before grilling. The burger stays moist but the flavor does not change. Adding BBQ sauce, sautéed mushrooms or onions into the beef before cooking are other good ideas.
Fatty fish selections include salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, and herring. Have these grilled twice each week, and enjoy the heart health benefits from the omega 3 fatty acids.
Marinating meats before grilling provides flavor and tenderizes meats. Also, marinades may reduce the amount of carcinogens that can form on meat exposed to high cooking temperatures.
Homemade marinades can be inexpensive, usually less processed and are easy to make. Add an acid ingredient such as lemon or lime juice, wine, vinegar or yogurt, and mix with your favorite herbs and spices such as garlic, red pepper flakes, green onions, fresh herbs, onion, or ginger. Allow for enough time for the two items to work. The acid tenderizes the meat on the surface and adds flavor while the herbs and spices add flavor and zest. Dairy products — like buttermilk and yogurt — are the only ingredients that seem to tenderize meat all the way through while keeping its texture mostly the same. The calcium activates enzymes that begin to breakdown the protein.
For store-bought marinades, select lower sodium options. Select those with 350 mg Na or less per serving, and try to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
Happy and healthy grilling!
Sodexo, a world leader in food service, is pleased to share the following video and recipe for a delicious Guajillo Adobo (a chile based marinade & sauce) by Roberto Santibañez, world-renowned Mexican chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author.
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