Saturday, July 2, 2011

Grilling food isn't good for you, unless...

One thing I find important for parents, especially dads, is health and wellness.  Firstly, since you have so much influence over your kids, you being a good example in this area will be a great start on the road to building happy healthy kids, then teens, then adults, themselves.  Second, well, I want the best for my kids, and poor health isn’t the best.  Third, I’d love to run circles around my grand kids one day.  That would be the coolest.  I’d love to live to see my great grand kids, too. 

And what a delicious way to start Lessons of A Dad’s articles on health with a delicious topic: the good ‘ol barbecue.  MmmmMmmm!

One thing that Filipinos and Americans have in common is that we love to grill our food.  Filipino cuisine has mastered the art of pork barbeque and chicken barbeque on a stick.  Americans, especially now that it’s summer on their shores and the 4th of July is coming up, love grilling up a steak and a burger…and who doesn’t love those?

I’ll tell you who doesn’t love those grilled foods: nutritionists and health conscious people.  Well, there’s a good reason why they don’t.  You have the double whammy of: cooking food in high temperatures and the smoke that makes that delicious…uh, smoky flavor.  Together, they put into your food some really bad guys named Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs).  I won’t go into what these guys do to you, but let’s just say they very significantly increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other ailments.

But can you have your health and still have that delicious grilled flavor too?  I believe you can.  I’ve looked around some of my favorite health resources and came up with eight healthy grilling tips for you.

1. This one starts long before you fire up your coals: make sure you marinate your meat.  Marinating your meat in alcoholic beverages such as beer or wine for six hours can reduce the HCAs by 90 percent (wow, there IS a healthy use for alcohol after all).  Using high antioxidant ingredients in your marinade, like fresh herbs, garlic, and other spices will also greatly reduce the HCAs and AGEs.  The juice of citrus fruits like lemon juice will tremendously reduce these bad guys as well.

So, making a marinade that contains all three will be a sure winner, like this one.  You can also find several recipes for marinades in The Best Little Marinades Cookbook (Best Little Cookbooks)

2.  Choose lean meats or trim the fat off your meat.  The fat drips into the coals, increasing the smoke around your meat, which increases the amount of PAHs too.

3.  Make sure your grill is clean.  This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen some people fire up their grill with the grate still having pieces of burnt meat on it.  Not nice.

4.  Cook your food with indirect heat, such as a rack or use a cedar plank.  The higher the temperature, the more HCAs form.

5.  Flipping your meat often also reduces the HCAs. 

6.  The meat you use is also very important.  Use the highest quality organic and grass-fed meats you can find.  The worst will be processed meat like hot dogs. 

7.  Mixing your meat for burger patties with high antioxidant ingredients like diced herbs or berries not only add flavor, but lower the formation of HCAs as well.

8.  Don’t overcook food, and if your cooking results in black and charred parts, remove them.

So go fire up the barbeque, and make things a lot healthier for you and your guests by following these eight tips.  Of course, since grilling is not the healthiest way to cook, you don’t want to grill too often.  Also, you’d want to have healthy sidings as well, like a great garden salad, to go with it.

Happy grilling!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my, I didn't know that grilling food can actually cause many negative effects in your system. It's good to know these healthy grilling tips you shared and will note this for sure! Happy and healthy grilling!

    Ria C
    It's My Party
    Home Is Where The Heart Is
    Red Lips and Pinky Toes
    The Travel Bug

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