There is nothing like grilling during the summer months; burgers, fish, and chicken are all favorites on the grill. As delicious as grilling is, research has shown that cancer-causing compounds, heterocyclic amines, are formed when protein foods (meats, poultry, fish) are cooked at high heat.
Here are a few things to do to keep our food safe when grilling:
- Don’t keep the food on the grill longer than necessary. Use a grill thermometer and cook steaks, chops and fish to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, beef burgers and pork to 160 and chicken and turkey to 165. Under-cooking leaves bacteria lurking while overcooking increases the HCAs.
- Grill at low temperatures. Try indirect heat-have the heat on in the back and turn it down or off in the front of the grill where the meat is cooking.
- Flip your food frequently to prevent it from burning.
- Try to avoid smoke and flame flare ups from grease. Keep a water bottle handy. The smoke and flames contain cancer-causing substances that coat the meat.
- Marinating meats first has been shown to reduce the formation of cancer-causing substances.
- Try grilling other foods-vegetables, fruits and tofu. They are less likely to cause cancer since there are no muscle proteins to break down.
- Choose lean meat or get rid of the fat off the meat before grilling. This will reduce the chance of fire or smoke from the fat dripping.
- Try kebobs-the smaller pieces of meat will cook faster and are less likely to form cancer causing compounds.
Gas v. Charcoal Grills
Gas and charcoal grills each come with their own sets of pros and cons regarding how their use affects the environment. Charcoal is dirtier, but can come from renewable resources; gas has a smaller carbon footprint, but is derived from non-renewable fossil fuels. According to the Huffington Post, grills powered with gas emit far fewer emissions than most charcoal grills. So go for the gas grill!
A few other simple tips to reduce your carbon footprint:
- Don’t use chemical lighter fluid
- Don’t leave your grill running longer than necessary
What’s your favorite food to grill?
photo credit: AamerJaved via photopin cc