It’s grilling time! (Read some great information and find an awesome recipe at the end)
Well, if you’re from up north like many of my family and friends you were teased with warm grilling weather and then the snow fell again….sorry. If you’re from the south, well, we get grilling time all year :)
As you are cleaning up the grill and filling up your propane tanks, remember that there are healthy and unhealthy facts about grilling.
I know the smell of grilled food is amazing and I also know that most everyone loves the beautiful grill marks on their food. But, did you know that meat, poultry or fish that’s charred or burned is covered with heterocyclic amines (HCAs)? And, HCAs can damage your genes, raising your risk for stomach and colorectal cancers.
For all of my non-vegetarian/vegan fans, try abiding by these tips from MD Anderson Cancer Centers for a healthier grilling season.
To keep HCAs off your guest list:
Stick with fish. Fish contains less fat and cooks faster than meat and poultry.
Lightly oil the grill. This keeps charred materials from sticking to your food.
Pre-cook food. Cook meat, poultry or fish in the microwave or oven for two to five minutes, then finish them on the grill. Less grill time means less exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
Lower the temperature. For a charcoal grill, spread the coals thin or prop the grill rack on bricks. This reduces the heat by increasing the distance between your food and the coals. And, use barbecue briquettes and hardwood products, such as hickory and maple. These burn at lower temperatures than softwood (pine) chips.
Scrub the grill. Cleaning the grill after each use prevents harmful chemicals from building up and transferring to your food at your next barbecue.
Use a marinade. Meat, poultry and fish taste better when marinated in vinegar, lemon juice, seasonings and herbs such as mint, rosemary, tarragon or sage. But that’s not the only reason marinade is a must. Marinating meat also can reduce HCA formation. Just 30 minutes can help.
Trim the fat. Cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form in the smoke when fat from meat, poultry or fish drips onto the heat source, then the smoke coats your food. Curb exposure to PAHs by trimming fat from meat before grilling. Or, choose cuts labeled “lean.”
**Don’t forget that you can eat vegetarian and/or vegan and still enjoy grilled food.
Grilling your favorite fruits and veggies is a great way to load up on vitamins and nutrients that help your body fight off diseases like cancer. HCAs and PAHs form in muscle proteins (a.k.a. meat not veggies and fruits).
To maximize your fruits’ and veggies’ flavor and nutrients:
Add a dash of pepper, salt and vinegar.
Don’t peel veggies. The peels provide more nutrients and a smokier flavor — and keep veggies from drying out.
Sprinkle cinnamon or honey over fruit before grilling.
Ok, so here is my Grilled Stuffed Zucchini recipe….yum!
1 large grilling zucchini
1 cup cooked wild rice (I like to cook mine in vegetable broth as it gives it more flavor)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
5 chopped green onions
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
handful of spinach leaves, chopped
sea salt and black pepper
Cook rice according to package directions and set aside.
Wash and cut zucchini lengthwise in half. Hollow out the middle and chop the middle parts into bite size pieces.
Saute the zucchini pieces, onion, and garlic for 2-3 minutes in olive oil. Add the spinach, basil, walnuts and tomatoes and saute for about 2 more minutes.
In a bowl combine the rice and sautéed vegetables.
Rub olive oil along the edges of the two large zucchini boats, sprinkle with salt and pepper (optional) and place face down on a heated grill. Cook for about 5-7 minutes so that the zucchini softens up and there are nice grill marks.
Flip over the zucchini boats and fill with the rice mixture. Grill for another 5-7 minutes. Serve.
Choosing healthy living over dying :)