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Do you love to grill in the summer? Most will agree, there is nothing like the taste (and smell) of freshly grilled food. Many of your favorites can be prepared on the grill for the whole family. We want to help you have a safe and healthy summer; here are seven grill tips you should know:
1. Clean the grill
Before you begin, clean the grill thoroughly with a brush and soap and water. If your grill has been in storage all winter, you’ll want to inspect for loose wires and connections prior to ignition. As a healthy habit, scrub your grill after every use to avoid the build up of carcinogens. Safety tip: For gas grills, step back and stay clear of ignition area before lighting, in the event of gas build up in the lines.
2. Pick your Protein
Select lean cuts of meat, like loin or round cuts. In addition, fish, skinless chicken breast and lean ground poultry are all healthy choices. For easy clean up, wrap marinated fish fillets in foil, or construct kebabs on skewers, or make stuffed burgers before hand with minced portabella mushrooms and chopped onions. Safety tip: Keep proteins refrigerated until time to grill to avoid bacteria.
3. Work the heat source
Avoid fatty meats if at all possible. The fat that drips onto the flames creates smoke which contain carcinogens. If you grill lean meats, skinless poultry, and fish, you’ll have less fat which means less smoke. Examine your grill for hot spots where temperatures tend to burn hotter. Use the cooler side of the grill for more heat-sensitive foods like fresh vegetables. Safety tip: If you do have a flame flare up, disperse food to avoid direct flame. Always have a garden hose or fire extinguisher near by.
4. Add flavor
This simple step will add tremendous flavor to your grilled food. Start with a marinade or rubbing spices on poultry, fish and meat. Make a simple rub of your favorite spice such as allspice, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, paprika or rosemary and black pepper. Safety tip: Never reuse marinade or rub after raw meat has touched it.
5. Cook time, less is more
In grilling, the faster foods are cooked, the less likely they’ll develop dangerous charring. Don’t cook meat past its goal temperature: 165 degrees for ground poultry; 160 degrees for ground red meats or mixtures and fresh pork; or 145 degrees for red meat steaks or chops. Don’t overcook or burn it. A bit of char is unavoidable, but overcooked charred meat will contain more cancer-causing compounds. Safety tip: Remove heavy charred or burned portions of food before eating.
6. Build a rainbow
Kebabs are just down right fun to eat. Using wooden skewers, construct colorful kebabs with red peppers, egg plant, asparagus, squash with all your favorite meats in between. Cut meat into small pieces that will cook quick and even. Brush with a healthy oil to prevent sticking or use a grill basket to keep them out of the line of fire. Safety tip: Soak skewers in water to prevent overexposure to flame.
7. Kill bacteria
To kill the common E.coli bacteria, the USDA recommends cooking ground beef to 160 degrees. If you want to go for medium-rare, grind your own beef, then cook immediately. If you use store-bought meat, flip burgers frequently: A study in the Journal of Food Protection advised flipping every 30 seconds for optimal E.coli reduction. Another study found that even when two patties both reached 160 degrees, the one flipped more often had one-fifth the E.coli. Safety tip: Wash your hands immediately after handling raw or uncooked meat to avoid cross contamination.
The best part about the grill, it can be one of the healthiest ways to cook! Following our tips, you can minimize your risk and enjoy grilled foods that are flavorful and safe. If you want more tips on summer weight loss, visit us at Datta Health and Wellness Center.