There are lots of reasons to grill; that fresh taste, smoky flavor, and delicious smell. It also happens to be healthier than other cooking methods because it uses less oils and batters.
Unfortunately, research has shown that the flame and smoke from grilling can deposit potentially cancer-causing compounds onto your food. One of those compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) forms when meat fat drips onto the hot coals or grill. The other, heterocyclic amines (HCAs), is produced when red meat, poultry, and fish make contact with high-heat like grilling.
But don’t give up the charcoal just yet. There are many easy ways to cut down the risk of contracting cancerous compounds. Here are some tips on how to grill safer and healthier:
- Meatless Munchies– Grill lots of fruits and vegetables. Not only do they taste great grilled, PAHs and HCAs do not form on them. Everyone can eat more fruits and vegetables, and grilling is a great way to develop their flavor.
- Love the Lean– Decrease the amount of fat that drips onto coals by grilling leaner meats. When possible, use leaner cuts of meat and trim off excess fat and skin before grilling.
- Marinate Meat– Marinades are a delicious way to amp up the flavor of your favorite food. The best part? Studies have shown that simply marinating your food can reduce HCA formation by as much as 92% to 99%. To cut down on the amount of fat that drips down, try using fat-free or low-sodium marinades.
- Cut Cooking Time– Cut meats into smaller portions before grilling. Smaller portions will cook faster; decreasing how long fat can drip on the grill. Also consider microwaving meats beforehand and then finishing them on the grill.
- Frequently Flip– Studies have shown that frequently flipping food may help prevent HCA formation. Turn meat with tongs or spatulas to avoid piercing (thus dripping) of meat.
- Savor the Skewers– Making skewers or kabobs is a fun way to mix up your grilling routine, and cut down grilling time. Try alternating pieces of meat with vegetables; peppers, onion, zucchini, or whatever else your healthy heart desires. The possibilities are endless!
Now that you’ve learned healthy grilling secrets, here is a tasty recipe to try:
Serves 1 – 1 Lean, 2 Green, 2 Condiments
1/4 tsp whole peppercorns
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
7 oz raw flank steak
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced thin
3/4 cup green bell peppers, chopped
- Mix the peppercorn, salt, mustard, garlic powder, and thyme.
- Rub evenly over steak.
- Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Heat a non-stick grill pan over medium heat.
- Grill steak five to seven minutes on each side, until steak is desired doneness.
- Grill mushrooms and green peppers until tender; serve alongside steak.