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Make Grilling Healthier

Posted by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM
  • 25 Replies

Few things taste as good as food cooked outside, over an open flame, and eaten in the fresh air. But some studies show a link between cancer and grilled foods, and in any case barbecue favorites like ribs, burgers and bratwurst aren't exactly healthy foods.

Here's good news for healthy eaters, though: Leaner meats and fish are less likely to develop the cancer causing compounds that form on grilled foods, and those that are quick to cook, like skinless chicken and fish fillets, have less time to develop those compounds. If you are indulging in a thick steak, precook it a little in the microwave first so it doesn't have to stay on the grill as long.

Marinating those leaner meats both helps boost their flavor and can block those cancer-causing compounds from forming as well. At least 30 minutes in the soak can block up to 88 percent of those cancer causing compounds, depending on the kind of marinade you use. Herbs and spices can also offer some protective qualities, according to some research. 

Using perforated foil can allow the smoky grill flavor to pass through while keeping exposure to harmful chemicals to a minimum, as well.

Keeping the grill clean is also really important. It's the char in meats that is harmful, so scrubbing off the charred remnants of previous meals makes grilling safer. You can buy wire brushes and grill-grate scrapers that get off a lot of gunk. When the grill grates are hot, take some foil, ball it up loosely, and grab the ball with tongs in order to scrub the grill clean. Follow that with an oiled paper towel to both prevent sticking and give a last good cleaning before you put the food on. 

How do you make your grilling more healthy?

Image ©IStickPhoto/GMVozd

by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by Bronze Member on Jun. 12, 2013 at 1:24 AM

We love fresh veggies on the grill!!

by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 7:13 AM

We don't let DH do the grilling (he chars EVERYTHING!)

We don't use charcoal and lighter fluid (which contribute to the carcinogens.)

We grill grass-fed beef, pastured pork, pastured chicken, and sausages without preservatives or flavor enhancers.

I prefer the use of seasonings instead of marinades....marinades contain oils that oxidize at cooking temps, leaving free radicals for us to ingest -- thus, higher rate of carcinogens. 

by Gold Member on Jun. 12, 2013 at 7:39 AM
We like to grill veggies and everything else!
by Member on Jun. 12, 2013 at 7:42 AM
2 moms liked this

Steak in the microwave? Yuck!

by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 7:44 AM


Quoting jadedcynic:

Steak in the microwave? Yuck!

by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 8:01 AM

We have a different (than your usual) type of BBQ grill.  It's called a pellet grill.  The principle is simple, the fuel is a compressed wood pellets, made 100% from wood.  There is an auger that turns (based on temperature) to feed the fuel to the 'burn pot' - the burn pot is a place where a red hot rod is being heated by electricity, the fuel is dropped into this burn pot and ignites and burns, thus heat and smoke for the grill.  There is a full length metal plate between the grill racks and this burn pot, so no flames ever touch the food, greatly cutting down on the number of possible carcinogens on the meat.  The pluses to this system (aside from the health issue) is that you fill a storage place with the pellets and it can go for 3 to 5 hours without having to be tended to.  Since the pellets self feed based on temperature, you don't have to worry about if the temp is too hot or cold, or having to move the coals around to get/keep the temperature right.  There is no use (or need) to use lighter fluid.  The negative things are that it does require electricity to run (so it's useless in power outages) and you are captive to buying these fuel pellets to cook with (lots of different brands of pellets but they all cost about the same; oh and the purchase price was quite high.  But, on the other hand, we use it about 4 times a week, month in and month out, cause in Houston you can (and we do) BBQ year round.

by on Jun. 12, 2013 at 8:50 AM

Thanks for sharing the tips.

by Gold Member on Jun. 12, 2013 at 10:22 AM
We grill alot of lean meats..fresh veggies and all kinds of fish and seafood. We use more seasonings then marinades..we grill at least three times a week
by Sarah on Jun. 12, 2013 at 12:31 PM
I make my own marinates and use foil for grilling fish.
by Lauren on Jun. 12, 2013 at 4:38 PM

We grill a lot and we do use foil for most veggies. I have honestly never considered the 'cancer risk' of grilling.  I don't think there is anything in life that does not have some sort of health risk attached to it. Sad, really.

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