Summer months bring on barbecue feasts. Did you know there is a downside to barbecuing? That’s right, grilling your food on the BBQ can actually produce carcinogenic compounds in your food! But wait, don’t throw in the towel just yet, you can make your barbecue very healthy by doing a couple of things.
Grill those veggies!
We all know about grilling meats but don’t leave out those veggies. Veggies give you antioxidants, polyphenols and other plant compounds that protect your body from toxins like those carcinogenic compounds. Just a few minutes on the grill — and delicious! — dinner is done. And don’t forget, barbecuing can turn veggies into savory dishes that you can eat right away or toss in a salad the next day.
I grill year-round, even if it’s wintertime (as long as it’s not dumping rain!). My family loves grilled carrots and broccoli (yes broccoli!) and grilled cabbage. Cabbage takes on a new savory flavor when grilled. For our family camping trips, we grill cabbage as part of dinner, and then the next morning, we add the savory veggie to the morning potato hash. I’ve only heard good things about this dish, even from the non-veggie lovers. Plus, the addition of the grilled cabbage helps balance out the high-carb potatoes, slowing the usual sugar spike.
If you have a picky eater, grilled vegetables are a smart way to change their palate and support a well-rounded diet. I’d encourage you to find unique ways to add veggies to your meals, like our cabbage-hash-brown combo.
One of my favorite dishes to prep is grilled romaine salad. It does sound unusual, but it is so good with red onion, avocado, salt and pepper, and garlic. Try it! My family is addicted to this recipe.
There’s also another way to improve your barbecue while keeping it healthy.
Infuse Flavor by Marinating
I love how marinating meat before barbecuing can build flavor and increase tenderness. Plus, marinating has some surprising health benefits. Grilling after marinating helps protect the meat from carcinogens.
Did you know that “ … marinating is one of the most effective ways to reduce the formation of cancer-causing compounds, known as heterocyclic amines (HCA’s). These compounds are produced when meat is cooked at high temperatures, like in grilling. Marinades can reduce the formation of these carcinogenic compounds by up to 99%.”?
Other research shows that marinating with rosemary can also help prevent carcinogens from bonding to grilled food.
Now for the fun part! You have so many wonderful recipes to use. Here are just a few.
For any recipes that call for lemon juice, you can try preserved lemons, which add more intensity of flavor.
Whether you’re hosting or attending a get-together, try a new recipe this summer. A final tip, if you’re trying to avoid the inevitable barbecue junk food, look over this previous blog for ideas on making it a flavorful and more healthy event!