While my wife and I were out for a stroll through the neighborhood last night, I caught a whiff of a distinct smell. Something I had not smelled for a number of months drifted past as I enjoyed the beautiful summer-like weather. When people fire up the coals in the grill, it is always a sure sign that the warm weather and summer are here to stay!
Memorial Day, the unofficial launch of the summer season, is just around the corner and tends to be one of the biggest grilling days of the year. Grilling, if done right, can be a healthy addition to your weekly dinner menu. Here are some tips so you can enjoy safe and delicious grilling this summer.
Safe grilling tips
1) Marinate your meat. Not only does marinating the meat provide a more flavorful end product, it can help reduce the carcinogens in the foods. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, marinating can reduce the carcinogenic heterocyclic amines, which form when you grill any sort of muscle meat.
2) Use a grill basket. Some food types, like vegetables, tofu, and cubed meats, don’t fare well when placed on your standard grill top. Grill baskets, which can be found at many of the local retail stores near you, can help get the desired grilled taste with less mess.
3) Hit the right temperature. The most important aspect of safe grilling is hitting the right temperature for your given product to reduce the chances of any foodborne illnesses. Periodically checking the meat with an instant-read thermometer is the best way to ensure the meat is properly cooked. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, pork, ham and beef to at least 145 degrees with a three-minute rest time. Any seafood should be cooked until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
4) Make sure leftovers are promptly refrigerated. Chill your leftovers as soon as you are finished eating. Small, shallow containers help foods cool faster.
Healthy grilling ideas
1) Stay away from red meats and sausages. Brats, burgers, and steaks are some of the most common foods that are grilled. However, they tend to be full of fat and high in cholesterol. Try to focus on lean cuts of meat or lower fat content meats. Instead of regular brats, try turkey brats, which can have 65% less fat than regular brats. Chicken is a healthier alternative to steak anytime.
2) Try something new. My wife is a vegetarian and when we started dating, she introduced me to the world of black bean burgers, tofu, and portabella burgers. I was hesitant at first, but have to be honest with you, they are delicious! Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a good venison steak on occasion, but no longer do I fear eating her leftover black bean burger.
3) Grill your veggies. Grilled vegetables are a great addition to any meal or can even serve as a solid main course. Grilled asparagus drizzled with olive oil and garlic is one of my favorites in the summer months. Other great options include marinating your veggies in a marinade of your choosing and placing them on a kabob on the grill. It provides a fun option to spice up your next cookout and I’ve found both adults and kids enjoy them.
Do you have any favorite recipes for grilling out? Comment below with some of your favorites!