Summer is here! For many folks, kids are out of school and the community pool is open. The sun is up and it’s time to get outside. You may be planning a cook-out with friends or family. It is time for the thrill of the grill!
If you’re planning your next meal around the grill, here are a few tips to start the season off right:
- Clean the grill. While this may seem like a silly suggestion, think of all that burnt char you’ll be eating if you don’t. Invest in a good grill brush and use it every time you grill. Another option is to place foil over the grill before you cook to reduce production of HCAs and PAHs. (see below).
- Lean in. If you’re going for lower fat burgers, don’t just grab turkey burgers. Read the label and look for turkey that is 90% lean or higher. Meat is sold by weight with the higher fat grades being 10% fat or higher. This goes for turkey, too. If you buy turkey burgers marked 85/15, the fat content is the same as 85/15 ground beef. Turkey breast is the leanest meat at 99/1. It is very lean so you will want to take care to cook it to 165 degrees so it is done but not overdone.
- Marinate for 15. Grilling or cooking meat at high temps (like frying) increases the production of HCA (heterocyclic amines), and PHA (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which are cancer causing chemicals. Marinating your chicken, fish, pork or steak in an acidic medium like salad dressing for just 15 minutes reduces the production of HCAs and PAHs. Citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange) or any vinegar will do the same.
- Grill vegetables, too! If you’ve never tried grilled corn, asparagus or squash, what are you waiting for. A brush of olive oil and dusting of salt and pepper is all you need to transform the taste of these summer favorites. Grilled peaches, pineapple or nectarines are delicious, too with a pinch of brown sugar and cinnamon. Grilled fruit goes well with fish or could be used as a light dessert.
- Serve your grilled food over greens or grains. Grilled fish or chicken is great with a side of veggies or grain, but for a prettier presentation, serve the meat on top of greens, quinoa, farro or brown rice. Another option is to combine greens, grains and protein and serve it as a bowl. Remember, you eat with your eyes, first.
While everyone is waiting for the grill to heat up, enjoy a large plate of fresh veggies. Check out this one that is straight from a farmer's market:
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD