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Making Grilling Healthier

You may have heard that when meats are cooked over high heat on a grill they gain carcinogenic compounds (HCA) that harms our DNA when dripping fat causes flares and chars the meat. The smoke can also deposit carcinogenic chemicals on the food. You also want to avoid foods with nitrates which are harmful to health (hot dogs, sausages, premade hamburgers…), for nitrates become especially harmful when cooked over high heat. What can help make the occasional grilling more healthy?

Go Lean  Start with a lean cut of meat, cutting off any visible fat, removing skin from poultry. If you want burgers, consider ground turkey with minced portabella mushrooms and onions in the mix. If you want to grill fish, do it on a cedar plank.ˆ

Marinate It is one of the best ways to reduce carcinogenic compounds by as much as 88%. It will infuse flavor, add moisture, and tenderize the meat. A combination of an acid (lemon or lime juice or vinegar), with pungent herbs and spices (garlic, onion, rosemary, oregano, sage, savory, ginger, thyme), and some olive oil. You may want to add some Worcestershire sauce. Set aside some of the marinade for a baste, and let the meat soak in the rest of the marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Fish and veggies only need 30-60 minutes in a marinade. Do NOT use the marinade the raw meat or fish soaked in for a baste!

Add a Dry Rub A dry spice mix of ingredients such as turmeric, ground pepper, garlic, and rosemary as it will cut down the production of HCA’s as much as 70%.

Grill More Veggies & Fruit  Make kabobs of your favorite big bites of fruits and veggies on branches of Rosemary, metal skewers or presoaked bamboo skewers.  Try to size accordingly so they will be cooked at about the same time.  Brush with a healthy oil like olive or coconut. Do not cook meat on a skewer with veggies & fruit because meat takes longer and needs to be fully cooked.

Here are some grilling tips to cook more safely:

  • Grill meat at lower temperatures (325°F and under),
  • Cook smaller portions to reduce time on the grill. It is healthier to eat a smaller serving of meat, no bigger than the palm of your hand.
  • Add salt before putting on the grill,
  • Turn the meat using a spatula, rather than piercing it with a fork, and flip them often as frequently as every 30-60 seconds. Do not press the meat releasing juices.
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure the meat or fish is not under or overcooked. If you don’t have time to marinate or make a dry rub, sear meat in a skillet and finish on the grill.
  • Transfer the cooked meat to a clean platter.

Enjoy healthier grilling (and not heating up the kitchen!)


But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. James 3: 17


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