Smoking hot, tasty rubs, and food that’s charred to perfection are common expressions around a barbeque, we’re adding healthy grilling to the conversation. Commonly associated with sizzling hunks of meat, it’s time to flip notions about what you can grill. Some of the most delicious things to come off the barbeque are also the healthiest foods to grill. Nothing beats a grilled mushroom or jalapeno (…talk about hosting hot fun-gi in your backyard). Fire up the grill! This guide to healthy grilling will help you confidently raise your barbeque tongs, because you, my friend, are going to be a healthy grill master!
Plants are some of the healthiest foods you can grill. It’s amazing what happens to stone fruit when you put it on the hot grill for a few minutes. Or, the flavour explosion of biting into a lightly seared jalapeno. The way fungi’s earthy flavours pair with the smoky grill is sensational! Tofu cooks to a perfect texture. All-time favourite healthy grill additions include corn on the cob, asparagus, and bell peppers.
With less oil needed, grilling is a healthy way to cook, when compared to sautéing or deep frying. Plus, on the grill, there is the ability of fat to drip off of the foods. It’s worth noting that there are ways to grill that make it healthier (see below). If you grill at high temperatures, overcook your meat, or use certain sauces, it can produce higher amounts of potentially harmful compounds. According to the National Cancer Institute, some barbequed food contain heterocyclic amines (HACs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which may increase the risk of illness if consumed regularly in high amounts. In the Report on Carcinogens, 11th edition, of the National Toxicology Program, prevalent HACs and PAHs are “reasonably anticipated” to be human carcinogens. Using this guide to healthy grilling you can lower your exposure to these compounds.
High heat involved in grilling can cause some potentially harmful compounds to form on your food; however, with a few adjustments to your cooking methods, you can make grilling healthier. The heating source, grilling time, distance from the heat, amount of fat, and marinade ingredients influence the formation of PAHs and HACs. For example, charcoal grilling is a higher PAH-forming cooking method. PAHs form when fat and juices drip onto the hot charcoal or grill surface and then travel back up onto your food in the smoke. Cooking at high temperatures can char food, which involves the formation of HACs. As such it’s best to cut off any charred bits and avoid overcooking meat. Researchers have found many ways to reduce the formation of HACs and PAHs on your grilled delights – let’s fire up the BBQ and do some healthy grilling!
By using a few tips and tricks, you can enjoy healthy food from the grill! Here are some of the healthiest ways to grill food:
With these healthy grilling tips, you’re ready to BBQ with confidence.
Now, you know how to be a healthy grill master! Go on – flip that BBQ spatula and clap those tongs because you are ready for the healthiest BBQ season yet.
Come and get it! Healthy grilling is the hottest trend this summer, and it’s worth sticking your fork into.
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Influence of fructooligosaccharides and garlic on formation of heterocyclic amines in fried ground beef patties. Food Sci Biotech 2010; 19: 1159-1164.
Chemicals in meat cooked at high temperatures and cancer risk. National Cancer Institute, 2021.
Metabolism and biomarkers of heterocyclic aromatic amines in molecular epidemiology studies: lessons learned from aromatic amines. Chem Res Toxicol 2012 Aug 15; 24(8): 1169-1214.
Contributed by Allison Tannis
Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s articles and books are read around the world by those curious about where to find the most delicious (and nutritious) places to stick their forks. More at allisontannis.com. Follow @deliciouslygeeky.