License to Grill
Grilling is definitely hot right now. The Food Network recently dedicated an entire week of programming to grilling and the summer grilling contests are back in full force. So what’s cooking on your grill? Do you prefer a gas grill or coals? Do you know the best way to prevent charring your food to the point of creating chemical compounds that may be hazardous to your health? Here are some of our tips for safe, healthy grilling along with some fun recipes to help you step outside the hot dog and burger comfort zone and into the creativity zone.
Optimum Wellness Healthy Grilling Tips:
1. Use long-handled utensils (spatulas, tongs, forks, etc) to prevent burning yourself or splattering sauce on your clothing.
2. Marinate your meat and veggies. Marinating food prior to grilling can actually help prevent carcinogen (cancer-causing agents) formation. Choose herbs and spices that are naturally high in antioxidants like rosemary, oregano, and thyme.
3. Keep the grill clean. Wash the grill before and after grilling. Grill grates need to be cleaned before every use. Not only is this more sanitary, but it can help prevent food from sticking, making cooking on a grill much easier. Purchasing a grill brush is a must if you want to maintain a clean grill. After you are done grilling, turn off the gas or wait until the coals have died down and the grill is just warm and scrape off remaining food particles from the grill grate. For cast iron grates, after they have been completely cleaned, it is a good idea to rub on a light coat of oil – easiest done with a paper towel. Of course with charcoal grills you are going to toss the ash every time, but again, you really need to scrape down the grill grates and get everything clean before your next use.
4. Keep the heat on moderate. Reducing heat to medium or allowing flames to die down will help prevent charring your meats and creating the unwanted carcinogens.
Shorter cook times can also reduce the chances of charring.
5. Think beyond the beef. Grilling can amp up the flavors of vegetables and fruits. We never knew an apricot could be so flavorful until we grilled up a few and served them on the side of a roasted (on the grill) beet and arugula salad – delicious!!