Grilling Tips for Healthy Eaters

June 25, 2011 · 2 comments

This is a guest post by Bailey Harris.

Nothing compares to the flavor of a freshly grilled meal. Grilling gives food that yummy, smoky taste and can be a very healthy method of cooking if done correctly. That being said, there are certain risks that go along with cooking food on a grill, particularly meats that have a high fat content. Meat isn’t the only thing that can be prepared on a grill, though. Grilled fruits and vegetables also taste delicious. There are some handy tips that will help you get the healthiest results possible out of your grilling experience.

Keep Your Grill Clean

You should always use a clean grill when cooking your food, because bits of charred residue can build up and pose risks to your health. This means you should thoroughly clean the cooking racks after each and every use, as well as the inside surface of the grill. Not only will it make the whole cooking process healthier and more efficient, but you will not have to worry about last week’s steak being stuck to the chicken breast you plan to cook this evening.

Marinate Your Food

Grilling meat can produce chemicals that have been linked to cancer. For this reason, it is best to use a marinade on your meat before cooking it on a grill. The spices, oils, and juices that are commonly used in marinades can significantly reduce the production of these chemicals, making your meal much healthier. Marinade can also shorten cooking time, tenderize meat, and give it a delicious flavor. You can use marinade on fruits and vegetables as well. Try marinades that are made with olive oil, as it is a very healthy oil to use in cooking.

Use Lean Cuts of Meat

Since the formation of toxic chemicals is more likely when higher-fat meats are exposed to high temperatures, it is best to use meat that is lower in fat when grilling. This means you should try to avoid grilling foods like hamburgers and sausages on a regular basis. Try to stick to leaner cuts like chicken breast, boneless pork chops, and even fish. If you have a cut of meat that has a large amount of fat on it, simply trim away as much fat as you can. Less fat on meat means a lower chance of chemicals being formed, which means a healthier meal for you and your family.

Avoid Overcooking

When food on a grill is overcooked, there is a much larger chance of charring. Charred parts of anything, particularly meat, should be removed before eating. This is because the charred portions contain larger concentrations of chemicals. Try to cook foods over lower heat for a longer period of time, if possible. Be careful to avoid flare-ups as well, as they are the number one cause of charring. Also, try to cook food on a higher rack if your grill has one. All of these things will greatly reduce the chance of your food being overcooked, which will make it much healthier.

Use Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is a great thing to have around if you want to cook a healthy meal on the grill. First, you can place it on the rack of your grill and use it as a simple pan. This keeps food from being charred or overcooked, while still giving it a yummy flavor. You can also make a packet using aluminum foil and cook an entire meal inside of it. Try a foil pack filled with lean fish or chicken, vegetables, spices, lemon juice, and olive oil. You will end up with a healthy, delicious meal that your family will love.

If you enjoy grilling, all of these tips can make the process healthier. Healthier food is something that you and your whole family will love. You can really get creative when grilling as well, and new things are definitely fun to try. Just always remember to use caution, and your food should turn out safe, healthy, and delicious every time.

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{ 2 comments }

TCD June 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm

This is a great article! I have one of those stove-top grills at home, and I know what you mean when you say that we should be making sure that it’s clean before every use. I never thought of using aluminum foil on top to keep things from charring. That’s an excellent idea, it’ll keep the grill a lot cleaner, and reduce potentially harmful chemical by-products from forming.

Thanks again!
TCD

Mark Wyler June 27, 2011 at 2:02 am

great tips indeed. Now if you need something to grill – try this turkey burger recipe I got from ABC’s Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition. Great show. Great tips. Great Recipes. Catch it Mondays at 10

JUICY STUFFED TURKEY BURGER

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground turkey
1 egg white
2 Tbsp. ketchup
4 oz. provolone cheese
4 pieces turkey bacon, nitrate free
2 jalapenos, halved
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Sea salt and fresh black pepper
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
Lettuce and tomato, for garnish

Directions:
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
2. In large bowl, combine ground turkey, egg white, ketchup and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix lightly with fingers until combined. Set aside.
3. Cut provolone cheese and turkey bacon into small pieces.
4. Prepare stuffing for each burger: 1 oz. provolone cheese, 1 piece turkey bacon and 1/2 jalapeno. Gather filling and shape ground turkey mixture around filling. Repeat to make 4 burgers total. Transfer to plate.
5. Lightly brush grill with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Grill burgers 5-7 minutes on each side.
6. Serve on whole wheat buns with lettuce and tomato.

Serves: 4
Calories per serving: 485
Caloric equivalent: 3 oz. protein, 2 fats, 2 carbohydrates

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