Grilling — a Cooking Technique for Your Total Body - dummies

Grilling — a Cooking Technique for Your Total Body

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

One goal of the Total Body Diet is to make the healthy side of foods shine bright in your life! According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA), practically everyone grills. Eighty percent of U.S. households own a grill or smoker — and 97 percent of them used the grill within the last year!

The taste of grilled foods is the number one reason that grilling is so hot these days. It’s a healthier way to cook because grilling drains the fat from meats and they aren’t battered or sitting in grease. Plus, grilling offers the opportunity to make vegetables — think kabobs, as well as steamer baskets filled with colorful arrays of veggies.

Charring the flesh of meat, fish, chicken, or pork can produce potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compounds called heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The good news is, marinating the flesh of any of these meats will hinder the production of these compounds. To play it safe, don’t overcook grilled meats, and flip meat on the grill often.

Here are some healthier grilling tactics:

  • Grill veggies and fruits. Adding some colorful foods to the barbecue will provide fiber and antioxidants. Plus, grilled produce doesn’t form the cancer-causing compounds that charred meats do. Some great produce to grill are mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, apples, pears, and pineapples.

  • Alternate meat with plants. Grilling high-fat meats is not a good practice for heart health and your waistline. Instead, use leaner loin cuts of beef and pork and skinless chicken breast — and don’t forget the plants! It’s easy to skewer tofu on a kabob with zucchini, onions, and tomatoes. Portobello mushrooms make a great grilled food on a whole-grain bun (and they taste like meat!). Veggie burgers are tasty on the grill, too.

  • Whip up some healthy marinades. Not only do marinades offer protection from chemical compounds forming on meat, but if you make them with less fat, it reduces the fat drippings in the fire forming the compounds in the first place. Use vinegar, lemon or lime juice, honey, garlic, herbs, and spices.