Healthy Summer Eating Begins with the Grill

This summer, embrace your grill. Grilling is a great way to eat healthy but still have delicious and flavorful food. 

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There are many health benefits to grilling food. For one, a lot of excess fat drips off meat and cooks away, leaving less fat in the finished product. Grilling allows vegetables to retain more of their vitamins and minerals. The high heat from the grill seals moisture in the food, keeping it tender, leaving less of a need to add extra oils or butter in the cooking process. It gives food such a delicious, natural flavor that you may not add sugary additives and sauces after. When meats are grilled, they retain riboflavin and thiamine, which are essential nutrients. 

Grilling is another way to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and instill healthy eating habits. The key is staying away from unnecessary additives like sauces, oils and butters. 

Try grilling fish, your favorite veggies (even brussel sprouts can taste delicious grilled) and chicken. Our favorites are grilled lemon chicken, eggplant, veggie skewers, and grilled fruit for a sweet ending to your summer meal.

Grilling Hazards

It's important to keep safety in mind when grilling. Fire, gas and grease can be a recipe for disaster. You can burn your hands, face or another part of your body if not careful. Charcoal grills cause more fires than gas grills. It's also important to remember the smoke from your grill or smoker contains carbon monoxide, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), and other dangerous substances. PAH are cancer causing substances that are formed when grease burns.

  • Stay clear of burned meats: One significant study showed regularly consuming burned meat increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by 60%.
    • Cooking meat at a high temperature causes chemicals called HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to form. These carcinogens can cause changes in the DNA that can lead to cancer. 
  • Marinades help fight off carcinogens: Marinate those meats
  • Avoid processed meats
  • Always choose grilled over fried foods

Lighting the Grill: If you don't have the optimal way to light a grill, which is a chimney starter, arrange the coals in a pyramid around a few crumpled sheets of paper. Wait for the coals to turn white. Lighter fluid can add a harsh chemical taste to the food you're grilling.

When Food Gets Stuck: When the grill gets hot, lightly saturate a paper towel with oil and using tongs, swipe it gently over the surface of the grates. Grills should always be properly and thoroughly cleaned when they're hot. It makes it easier and food will stick less if the grill is clean. 

Flaring Up: It's happened to all of us at one point or another. Flare-ups can be a pretty common side effect of grilling anything juicy. Keep an eye on your foot, and know your cook time may be a little less.

Uneven Cooking: The key to avoid this is to build a two-zone fire, either by adding more charcoal on one side than the other or turning on side's burners on and the other's off. This creates placement on the grill for searing and roasting. Meat will come out perfect every time.

Tips for Safe Grilling

  • Practice good grilling safety
  • Clean grill before using to avoid any flare-ups from old residue.
  • Inspect gas tank before grilling. Number one cause of gas grill fires is an obstruction in the path of the fuel.
  • Be careful adding lighter fluid to hot coals. When it burns it turns into gas which can explode.
  • Avoid breathing in any smoke from the grill.