ENJOY A POPULAR SUMMER PASTIME WITHOUT SABOTAGING YOUR HEALTHY DIET.
BY DR. ROBERT BLAIR, STRATEGIC RESEARCHER
For many of us grilling is a way of life, a summertime ritual that we enjoy as often as possible. Grilling often invokes memories of dads in grilling aprons and friends gathered together to enjoy a relaxing afternoon of good food and good conversation. However, many of us often don’t make the best food choices when we fire up the grill. In fact, foods rich in saturated fats like ribeye steaks,
Italian sausages, bratwurst, hamburgers and hot dogs are the ones that most often find their way to our grills. However, it is possible to enjoy the pleasures of grilling and still eat healthy.
MAKING HEALTHIER FOOD CHOICES
While steaks, burgers, and sausages are generally easy to grill and taste delicious when grilled properly, research studies have shown that excess red meat consumption can have a negative impact on our body weight and our health. Although it is certainly not necessary to avoid red meats from your grilling plans entirely, it is a good idea to incorporate healthier grilling choices as often as possible. This makes for both an easy way to add variety to your summertime menu while also developing healthier eating habits.
HERE ARE SOME FOODS TO TRY ON YOUR GRILL THIS SUMMER:
Fish — Like red meats, fish is an excellent source of protein; however, it has the added benefit of being lower in saturated fat and is available in a range of flavors and textures. Give grouper, salmon, tuna, or mahi mahi a try if you are looking for a thicker, “meaty” fish. For a lighter, flakier fish, haddock, whitefish and flounder make excellent choices. Some types of fish are also an excellent source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Poultry — While perhaps not as low in fat as fish, chicken is clearly lower in fat than red meat. Removing the skin and choosing the breast meat rather than thighs and drumsticks are good ways to keep the fat content lower.
Fruits and Vegetables — Vegetables can make an excellent addition to your grilling repertoire. Sweet bell peppers, mushrooms, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus and more can all be easily grilled. Lightly brush them with olive oil to help prevent them from sticking to the grill, or grill them in foil packs. Season to taste and enjoy!
TIPS FOR HEALTHIER GRILLING
No matter which foods you choose to cook on the grill, there are several other things you can do to keep grilling a healthy event.
WHEN GRILLING THIS SUMMER, TRY OUT SOME OF THESE TIPS:
- Grill at a low to medium heat. Many of us turn the temperature of the grill up way too high, which can burn the meat. Charring or burning meat can cause the formation of chemicals called heterocyclic amines that may increase cancer risk. Both cooking below 325°F and marinating have been reported to reduce the formation of these chemicals. Charring can also be reduced by precooking food before finishing on the grill or covering the grill with aluminum foil to prevent flare-ups.
- Trim excess fat from red meats and remove the skin from poultry.
- If grilling red meats, choose some of the leaner cuts of meat like sirloin, tenderloin and round steaks.
- Cook to the proper temperature.
- Keep the grill clean and well-maintained. By choosing healthier grilling options and including plenty of fruits and vegetables, grilling this summertime can be both an enjoyable experience as well as a healthy one.
Leave a comment below and tell us some of your favorite summertime grilling foods!