As the weather warms up and summer is on the horizon, our love of cooking outdoors awakens from a winter slumber of slow-cooked, comfort foods like stews and casseroles. Cooking over an open fire (or grilling on the barbecue) is what makes human cooking and eating different than other animals. We can eat in a shorter time by cooking our food—most animals have to spend the majority of their day eating raw foods.
That said, grilled foods can sometimes be less healthy because of the charring that can occur and the types of foods we often choose to barbecue. The following suggestions can help keep us focused on health while still speaking to our roots as human who love to cook over fire.
How to make grilling healthier:
• Half your plate (or half your grill!) should be vegetables. Think grilled asparagus spears, bell pepper halves, whole mushrooms, eggplant slices, zucchini boats, tomato halves, cauliflower—the list is endless! Simply brush and sprinkle lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper. For smaller vegetables, consider using a grill basket to keep them from falling through the cracks.
• Choose healthier proteins more often like fish, seafood, chicken, veggie burgers or tofu.
• Make your own burgers from lean or extra lean ground beef. Wild and game meats are also healthier choices. Eating processed meats like wieners, smokies and sausages increases the risk of cancer.
• Marinate protein foods. Using acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar helps protect against the formation of carcinogenic compounds in grilling. And cook on a lower temperature.
• Kids love food that comes on a stick. Try kebabs made using vegetables like zucchini, tomatoes, onion and mushrooms and proteins like chicken or shrimp.
• Be sure to use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of your proteins to and ensure a safe temperature is reached to avoid foodborne illness.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Visit HealthLink BC for more information on healthy grilling and food safety: