When I think of summer my senses come alive. I feel the sand on my feet, see the rolling waves of the great lakes, enjoy the taste of watermelon, revel in the sound of a crackling campfire and swoon at the smell of a barbecue. Every year for the last 10 years my family has joined five other families camping all around Michigan. We have watched the kids grow as our tolerance for pitching a tent has dwindled but our love of a campfire has never waned. The kids have learned fire safety around those memorable campfires and honed their cooking skills.
Unfortunately, grilling has some unwanted side effects. Cooking meat at high temperatures can create compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCA’s), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s), and advanced glycation endproducts (AGE’s) that are linked with some cancers. No one want’s that!
Here are a few ways you can reduce the nasty compounds from grilling:
- Skillet or oven first. When you precook your meat in a skillet or oven you are decreasing the grilling time, therefore, decreasing the buildup of these unhealthy compounds. Cooking at lower temperatures or for a shorter amount of time is a healthy step in grilling especially when you add sauce at the end.
- Don’t be a drip. Fat dripping onto the hot coals below causes an increase in these bad compounds found in the smoke and ending up in your dinner. Instead, you can use a cast iron pan, a water-soaked wood plank or a salt plate. You can also use leaner cuts of meat since the fat causes more dripping.
- Avoid the char. The char on the meat or veggies looks lovely but contains the most dangerous compounds.
- Spic and Span. Keep your grill clean to avoid placing your food on dangerous compounds created from your last barbecue.
- Rub-a-dub-dub. Herb and spice rubs and marinades are the ticket to healthy grilling. Not only does it make your food insanely delicious but it can also reduce the creation of these nasty carcinogens by up to 95%. It also can reduce smoke, char and fat drippings which will decrease your exposure of HCA’s, PAH’s and AGE’s. Sticking antioxidant-rich blueberries in your burgers with some oregano and thyme also help balance the bad with the good.
- Supplement for protection. Take a powerful antioxidant supplement to block the ill effects of AGE’s, HCA’s and PAH’s. We have some great choices in our web store. Ceralin Forte from Metagenics and Anti-Oxidant from Thorne Research are my favorites. You can access them here.
Here is a recipe for a marvelous marinade for barbecue and more. Happy Grilling!
1-2 tablespoons cider, balsamic or red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons whole grain or Dijon mustard
2-3 teaspoons dried herbs like thyme, oregano, rosemary or crumbled bay leaf
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix in a bowl. Save 1/3 of the recipe in a separate bowl to brush on just before serving. Use the remainder to marinate meat for 30 minutes.