As Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer, approaches, people like spending more time outside, and one of the most celebrated outdoor activities is the good old American barbecue. What a great time to think about all they healthy and safe ways to enjoy one of our favorite food traditions.
Make sure your grill is clean and ready for safe use before throwing on your favorite food, especially if it’s been covered up during the long winter months. Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines. Then, when you’re ready to cook, allow the grill to heat up sufficiently to eliminate potential bacteria problems. Also, if you are using a gas grill, check the burner orifices to make sure they are clear of any deposits to ensure a safe ignition and even flame.
Now that the grill is clean and ready to go, here comes the most important question: What to cook? There are the traditional barbecue favorites of hot dogs and hamburgers but let’s explore some non-conventional ideas:
- Cut the fat. Grill some bison or grass-fed burgers instead. Grass fed beef and bison are naturally leaner than their corn and grain fed counterparts. Add chili sauce, marinara or pureed blueberries (that’s right, I said blueberries) to give the meat extra moisture.
- Pile on the vitamins and nutrients. Did you know that vegetables can be cooked right on the grill? Baste vegetables such as peppers, corn, asparagus or onions and season them with herbs. Place them on a hot grill until they are tender and brown. Or, sprinkle sliced zucchini, tomatoes and carrots with a little water and seasoning, wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil and grill until tender.
- Don’t forget dessert. Grill fruit kebabs, pineapple slices or peach halves on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden. Serve fruit on a plate with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, unsweetened shredded coconut and cinnamon.
Finally, always be sure to use a food thermometer to be sure your food is cooked to the proper temperatures. Look for a thermometer made of stainless steel, appropriate for meat, that bears the NSF certified seal. This seal certifies that the product meets public health and safety standards.
Does Grilling Cause Cancer?
According to the USDA, recent studies suggest a link between cancer and charred meats and fish. Charring commonly occurs as a result of high temperature cooking methods, such as grilling, frying and broiling.
Here are some tips to prevent your meats from charring:
- Remove fatty areas
- Pre-cook meat in the microwave before placing it on the grill
- Make sure the coals of the grill are not directly below the meat
- Avoid grilling meats until they are well done or burnt