All hail the return of BBQ season. Yes, the time has come to say goodbye to those boring and solitary stovetop suppers and hello to group gatherings around the grill! Grilling your groceries is not just convenient, delicious and social, it is also one of the most healthful ways of preparing your meals. But, despite the BBQ benefits, there are a few health-related issues to be aware of.
The downside is that there is a higher risk for potentially cancer-causing compounds. One compound is called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), formed when fat from the meat drips onto the coals and then is deposited back onto the food thanks to the open flame. Another is known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are a factor when meat and poultry are cooked at an extremely high heat. Thankfully there are ways to limit the amount of these compounds when firing up the grill! Here’s a list of tips to ensure your BBQ season is healthy and delicious!
Cut the Fat
One of the best things to throw on the grill is a juicy piece of meat. The good news is, preparing your butcher’s specials on the barbie is favourable for the waist-line. It dramatically reduces the amount of fat in our meals by allowing it to drip off the meat as opposed to pooling around it as it does when it’s prepared in the oven. But, though the dripping is good for weight-management, it can cause those previously mentioned compounds that we’re trying to avoid. This is why it’s still important to trim the fat. The less fat there is on the cut of meat, the less it will cause the grill to smoke, resulting in less PAHs. Good news all around!
We all know how amazing food can taste when it’s been marinating for a few hours before throwing it on the grill. But, did you know that the flavour infusing process is actually better for you? Yep, letting your meat and poultry soak in tasty seasoning beforehand has been shown to reduce those unwanted HCAs by up to 99 percent. Try whipping up some homemade sauces using a base of olive oil and vinegar, and let it soak for one to two hours before you grill 'em up.
Barbecuing is often associated with backyard parties – kebabs, conversation and cold ones, am I right?! During these idyllic evenings outside, it’s often easy to get distracted and forget about the task at hand. But, manning (and wo-manning!) the grill is actually a very important component to keeping it healthy. In short, flip the food often. This will ensure there are no charred or burned bits and in turn, reduce the amount of PAHs.
When planning a grill gathering, people often think hotdogs and burgers. But, at the risk of sounding like your mother: eat your vegetables!! From asparagus spears, to Portobello mushrooms, corn on the cob and even pineapple slices - grilling up fresh produce alongside the traditional fare is equally tasty and even more health-wise. Besides the obvious benefits of eating nutrition-dense foods, those dangerous cancer-causing compounds DO NOT FORM on fruits and veggies. So grill ‘em up and reap all the nutritious and delicious benefits!