Barbecues are the symbol of summer evenings with friends and it embodies an old traditional way of cooking. It’s quick, easy and it has that characteristic taste which for many is irresistible.
It’s often considered a healthy way of cooking, but it can have the completely opposite effect, without the proper precautions.
What are the risks of grilled food? And what are the rules to make it healthy as well as delicious?
Risks of Grilled Food
The high temperatures reached by grill cooking can lead to the formation of carcinogens and substances that are bad for the health, especially when cooking meats or other foods that are rich in fats.
In addition to this, while grilling, fats tends to drip and burn on the grill, generating smoke loaded with harmful compounds, which spreading through the smoke, settles on food.
Golden Rules for a Healthy Grill
Good quality meat. This should be your first step. Selecting good quality meat of guaranteed origin— this way we at least avoid that the dangers of toxic cooking residues mix with other harmful substances used in livestock breeding. And make sure you cook it thoroughly, especially poultry and hamburgers shouldn’t be raw inside.
Start out clean. Always clean your grill with a wire brush to don’t let the charred buildup on the grill transfer on your food. Give the grill a good brush then wipe it down with a cloth or paper towels to make sure that no bristles will get into your food or your guests.
Avoid fattiest meat cuts. And if the meat you’re about to grill shows excess of fats, you may want to remove them before cooking. Most of the carcinogen substances we mentioned are released when the fats are heated at high temperatures and drips and burns on the grill generating smoke.
Marinate. Is recommended to use a marinade made with olive oil and lemon juice. These two ingredients can reduce the formation of harmful substances during grilling and help to keep the food moist. There’s plenty of recipes for marinades out there, if you’re using a store-bought one, make sure you pick one low in salt.
Vegetables. Grilled vegetables are just as good as grilled meat. And they are one of the best ways to reduce the potential harm of grill cooking. Accompany the consumption of meat with plenty of vegetables rich in fibers and antioxidants— not necessarily grilled as the high temperatures can quickly deteriorate the intake of vitamins of the B and C groups. Especially the vitamin C is proven to reduce the carcinogen effects.
Fire. It’s very important to control sudden flare-ups— it is precisely to these that the ability to scorch and blacken the food is attributed, an aspect that is in turn related to the formation of carcinogenic substances. You can reduce these risks in several ways: line the grill with aluminum foil perforated with holes. Cook for longer at a lower temperature. Have a spray bottle filled with water handy to control fatty flare-ups.
Do not eat charred food. Never, ever eat food that it’s obviously burned. You should cut or scrape away the parts that presents the typical black burned marks. That’s where the carcinogen compounds are.
Aromatic herbs. Adding aromatic herbs to the preparation of grilled food contributes to reduce the risks of cancer. Aromatic herbs such as basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage are proven to drastically reduce the formation of carcinogen compounds. The experts recommend to use aromatic herbs— preferably fresh ones— in the marinade first and then in the cooking.
Drink lots of water. To avoid dehydration, especially during the summer months, when is even more hot in front of the grill, it’s necessary to drink plenty of water and consume alcoholic beverages in moderation to facilitate the elimination of toxins.
Safe grilling practices. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from vegetable and other foods, also as a form of respect to your vegetarian friends. A food thermometer can be useful to check the internal temperatures of the meat you’re grilling. Place grilled foods on clean plates, and not on the ones that held them when they were still raw, the same goes for tools and knives you may have used during the food preparation.
History and different kinds of grills. If you want to know more about the types of grills and their history, you can find information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grilling.
Planning on Grilling this Summer?
If you’re passionate about barbecue there’s a solution to obtain tasty grilled meats, in a quick and effortless way: pellet smokers.
Using exclusively a kind of pellet specifically designed for cooking food, this kind of barbecue has cutting-edge technology that will allow you to grill your meat in a healthy and efficient way, being able to precisely control the temperature and the amount of pellets used.
We believe that the tips and advice provided will help you enjoying your barbecues even more. We prepared a practical buying guide that covers all you need to know to buy the right pellet smoker for you: https://wisepick.org/best-pellet-smoker/