It’s Labor Day and what better way to celebrate than to grill up some healthy grub! You are probably saying, “but I thought that eating a big slab of grill cooked meat is not only fattening, but also now known to cause cancer!” Well, yes, there is some truth to what you say, however….let’s make a comparison. Deli meats and sausages are loaded with nitrates which are well known to cause cancer. Baking meats in their own juice are loaded with fat as well as deep frying. Hamburgers and dogs too are plagued with fat and potentially carcinogens as well.
So let’s take a closer look at grilling:
First, if you are trying to lose weight, make sure you limit the size of your steak to no more than 4-6 ounces depending on how active you are. I usually split a steak with someone else.
The carcinogens you hear about with grilling are called heterocyclic amines (HAs). They are formed when amino acids in meat are cooked at a very high heat. So what you really need to worry about are the burnt parts that come from overcooking or from flare ups that happen when the fat drips into the fire. To prevent this from happening, pick a low fat cut meat, trim off excess fat, and only cook it as high as recommended. Some say 270 degrees should be the absolute max. Trim off any charred pieces before you eat it. Keeping your grill clean will also reduce charring your meat.
Let’s talk marinades! Some marinades are found to decrease the formation of (Has). Olive Oil and citrus based marinades along with herbs like basil, oregano, mint, sage rosemary and thyme reduce this chemical reaction. Just throw your meat in a ziploc bag, add your marinade ingredients and mix by squeezing the bag. Let it marinade for a couple hours before grilling.
Finally, what better way to eat a healthy meal than to eat lots of fruits and veges on the side! Make this a low fat, gluten free meal compliant with American Dietetics, American Diabetes and American Heart Association! Put large diced produce like bell pepper, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, onion, pineapple, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, potatoes and carrots on skewers, or in folded up aluminum foil. You can also cook corn on the cob right on the grill. Very tasty! You can use a marinade on these as well. I just use a little olive oil, but I know folks who like a bottled Italian dressing. Veges cook quick so watch closely! Heterocyclic amines (HAs) do not form on produce, so you can add as many as you want to your meal without fear.
I found some GREAT lowfat grilling recipes on Delish.com that use the recommendations here. Try them and let me know what works for you!
I hope you enjoy your Labor Day by grilling in a healthy way. Just like I always say, eat any way you want, just do it in moderation so you can still lead a simple healthy life.