Healthy Barbecue Grilled

Healthy Barbecue Grilled images
Healthy Barbecue Grilled images

For many Americans, summer just wouldn’t be the same without a backyard barbecue. However, the blackened meats and smoky flavor that come with grilling could put your health at risk, experts caution.

The good news, though, is that by planning ahead and making some smart choices, you can enjoy summer barbecues and reduce your exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

High-heat grilling can convert proteins found in red meat, pork, poultry and fish into heterocyclic amines (HCAs). These chemicals have been linked to breast, stomach, prostate and colon cancer.

“What happens is that the high temperature can change the shape of the protein structure in the meat so it becomes irritating in the body and is considered a carcinogenic chemical,” Stacy Kennedy, a nutritionist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said in an institute news release.

Another cancer-causing agent, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), is found in the smoke from the barbeque. PAHs form when fat and juices from meat cooking on the grill drip down onto the heat source.

“That’s where the main cancer-causing compound occurs in grilling,” Kennedy said. “So you want to reduce the exposure to that smoke.”

For those who plan to fire up the grill this summer, Kennedy offered the following tips to reduce exposure to cancer-causing agents:

  • Choose meats wisely. Avoid grilling high-fat meats, like ribs and sausages. Instead, choose lean meats, which create less dripping and less smoke. Always trim excess fat and remove skin. It’s also a good idea to choose smaller cuts of meat, such as kabobs, which require less cooking time.
  • Try thin marinades. Thicker marinades tend to char, which could increase exposure to cancer-causing agents. Choose marinades made with vinegar or lemon, which will form a protective layer on the meat.
  • Reduce grilling time. Always thaw meat before cooking. Meat and fish also should be partially cooked in the microwave before grilling. This will reduce cooking time and the risk for smoke flare-ups.
  • Flip often. Flipping burgers once every minute will help prevent burning or charring.
  • Consider food placement. Be sure to place food at least six inches away from a heat source.
  • Create a barrier. Do not allow juices to spill and produce harmful smoke. Line the grill with aluminum foil or cook on cedar planks.
  • Consider veggies. Try grilling your favorite vegetables since they do not contain the protein that forms harmful HCAs. “People are surprised, but you can safely eat charred vegetables,” Kennedy said. “They have different proteins that are not affected the same way as the meat protein.

Despite the risks, Kennedy said, barbecue enthusiasts should keep things in perspective. “If you’re grilling and following the proper safety tips, the risk of getting cancer from grilling food is very low,” she said. “Being overweight or obese, which are at epidemic levels in the U.S., are far greater risk factors for developing cancer than the consumption of grilled foods.”

 

7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables

7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables images
7 Great Ways to Cook Fresh Vegetables images

How to Cook Fresh Vegetables

Are you a creature of habit in the kitchen and at the grocery store? Do you reach for the same carrots and celery for snacks, bagged greens for salads, and frozen veggies for dinnertime sides? It’s time to break out of your food rut. Learn a few basic cooking techniques, then head to the produce aisle and pick out something new. With very little time and effort, you can create crave-worthy veggie side dishes every night of the week.
 
Note: The smaller you cut your vegetables, the faster they will cook. Aim for bite-size pieces unless noted below. No matter how large or small your pieces are, be sure they are the same size to avoid uneven cooking.
 
For each cooking technique, you’ll need four cups prepared vegetables to yield four servings. If you’re cooking for fewer people, you can adjust the amounts or save extras for future meals.
 
Stir-fry

How to: Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat.
When the pan is hot, add the chopped veggies.
Cook, stirring often, until the veggies are tender yet crisp.
For flavor add one of the following:
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt-free seasoning blend
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic or ginger
  • low-sodium soy sauce or
  • miso paste
Good for: bell peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, snow peas, celery, green beans, cabbage and carrots
Tip: Add “harder” vegetables such as broccoli and green beans first, then softer veggies like onions and peppers.

 
Roast

How to: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Cut your vegetables into uniform pieces.
Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Drizzle on 2 teaspoons oil, sprinkle with pinch of salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon dried herbs.
Roast, stirring halfway through the cooking process:
  • 10-20 minutes for quick-cooking veggies
  • 20-30 minutes for long-cooking veggies
Good for: 
Quick-cooking vegetables:  mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli
Long-cooking vegetables:  sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, turnips, butternut squash, and parsnips, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts

 
Veggie Casserole

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a baking dish with a tight-fitting lid with cooking spray.
Add your vegetables, chopped into uniform pieces.
Add flavor with:
  • 2 teaspoons purchased pesto or
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, oregano, parsley, thyme or rosemary
Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Good for: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, onions, celery, cabbage
 

Faux Fry

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.

Slice your vegetables into long, thin strips and pat them dry with paper towels.
Assemble a dipping station. You’ll need two shallow with flat dishes, such as pie pans.

  • To the first, add 2 beaten egg whites
  • To the other, add 1 cup fine breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon dried parsley and 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
Spritz the vegetables with cooking spray, dip in the egg whites, then the bread crumb mixture.
Place vegetables in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the vegetables once, until the crust is golden brown.
Serve with a dipping sauce such as salsa, hummus, pesto or tomato sauce.
Good for: green beans (no need to slice), eggplant, squash, onions, mushrooms or asparagus

 
Steam (Microwave or Stove)

How to: 
Slice the vegetables.
For the microwave: Place veggies in a microwave-safe dish with a tight-fitting lid. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook on high for 3-5 minutes.
For stove top steaming: Place veggies in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, using a steamer basket if you have one. Add 1/4 cup water and cover. Cook on medium-high for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp and bright yet slightly tender.
To add flavor, add 1 bay leaf or 2 lemon slices to the cooking water.
Good for: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snow pea pods, zucchini and summer squash

 
Grill

How to: 
Preheat an indoor or outdoor grill to medium.
Slice vegetables into 1/2 inch thick slices or strips.
Brush with reduced-fat Italian salad dressing or balsamic vinegar.
Grill for 5 minutes until the vegetables are crisp yet tender.
Good for: asparagus, eggplant, spring onions, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, mushrooms
Note: Use a grill basket or skewers for small vegetables on an outdoor grill to prevent them from falling through the grates.

 
Parchment or Foil Packets

How to: 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place your chopped veggies on a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment.
Add flavor by:
  • Sprinkling with 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil, oregano or parsley
  • Layering 4 lemon slices on top veggies or
  • Adding 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Fold and seal the foil or parchment around the veggies to form a packet. 
Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender yet crisp.
Good for: sugar snap peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and mushrooms