8 Tips for Healthy Summer Grilling
By: BARBARA NELSON, CRNP
Grilling is a great way to enjoy the warm summer weather and spend quality time with family and friends. Before firing up the charcoal, review these easy tips to keep your grilling healthy and safe.
1. Start with a clean grill. Don’t let the charred buildup on your grill stick to your food. Use a wire brush to give your grill a good cleaning, then wipe it down to remove particles.
2. Practice safe food handling. Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from vegetables and other foods. Place grilled foods on clean plates, not on the ones you used when they were raw.
3. Avoid smoke and fire. Exposing meat to high heat and open flames can create chemicals that have been linked to some cancers. Reduce your exposure to these chemicals by:
- Lining the grill with aluminum foil
- Cooking food at temperatures below 325 degrees
- Using a spray bottle of water to put out any fat fires
4. Marinate for flavor and health. Marinating meat before cooking helps prevent the formation of potential carcinogens. Make your own healthy marinades or use bottled marinades that are low in salt.
5. Flip burgers often. Research suggests that flipping a burger every 30 seconds reduces E. coli and potential carcinogens from charring.
6. Check internal temperatures. Use a meat thermometer to make sure your meat reaches minimum temperatures to kill harmful bacteria. See the USDA’s temperature guidelines.
7. Choose leaner meats:
- When grilling red meat and pork, buy “choice” or “select” grades of beef, which have the lowest fat content.
- For chicken, choose breast cuts and remove the skin before eating. Skinless chicken breasts are less fattening than dark meat legs and thighs.
- Fish are typically lower in fat than other types of meat and contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Try grilling salmon, trout and herring.
8. Don’t forget the veggies and fruit. Grilling amps up the flavor of fruits and vegetables. You can mix things up by cooking kabobs that alternate meat, vegetables and fruit.
Tired of the same old burgers? Check out these grilling recipes for a healthy and tasty summer.
Barbara Nelson, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, received her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Walden University, completed a family medicine post-master certificate program at the University of Cincinnati, and is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She cares for patients in MPCP’s Bowie office.