Memorial Day is the unofficial start to summer which also means the unofficial kick off to the summer grilling season. And while grilling is a healthy way to add flavor to traditional meats, fish and vegetables, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) advises that what you’re cooking, and how it’s prepared, can make a huge difference when it comes to health. Here are a few tips to think about when trying to keep your grilling healthy.
Avoid Processed Meats:
- What to avoid: hot dogs, sausage, prepared hamburgers, bacon, ham, pastrami, salami and pepperoni.
- Alternatives include: fish, skinless/boneless chicken, lean cuts of meat, make your own turkey burgers (be careful to use white ground turkey breast versus the dark meat), half ground beef/half turkey burgers and grilled vegetables.
- Risk factors from processed meat include: colorectal cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure.
- Portion size: In an ideal world processed meats would be eliminated. But since that’s not realistic, the goal is to eat these foods as sparingly as possible. Be sure to keep meat servings to no more than 3-4 oz per meal. To really reduce your risks for cancer-causing compounds, increase the fruits and veggies that are grilled. These healthy alternatives provide phytochemicals that may help protect against cancer.
Limit Red Meats:
- What is considered red meat: Pork, lamb and beef. Note that certain cuts of beef, pork and lamb are high in fat so you want to be careful what kinds you are choosing and with how much you eat.
- Great alternatives are skinless/boneless chicken breasts, fish, and veggies.
- Risks associated with too much red meat are: colorectal cancer and heart disease.
- Portion size: Limit yourself to <18oz of red meat a week.
Don’t Char or Burn Foods:
- Charred or burnt food is covered with heterocyclic amines (HCAs) – which can potentially damage your DNA, possibly increasing your risk for certain cancers, such as stomach and colorectal.
- Pre-cook food: microwave or bake for a few minutes before putting food on the grill to lower the amount of time it needs to be on the grill.
- Lower temperature: Allows food to cook evenly without charring or burning outside.
- Use a marinade: This helps keep HCAs off foods. A healthy marinade option could be made from healthy bases of vinegar and citrus with vegetables, as well as low fat/fat free options.
- Trim the fat: Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form in smoke when fat drippings hit the flame causing them to build up on the meat. The less fat on the meat when on the grill the better.
- Scrub the grill: Good clean up prevents harmful chemicals from building up on your grill and transferring to your food at the next barbeque.
- Shish kebabs with extra veggies, raw and in marinade
- Items for making homemade “healthy” marinade
- Portion size of red meat
- Processed meat examples
Summertime Grilled Jail Island Salmon Taco with Grilled Pineapple Cabbage Slaw.
5oz Portion of Jail Island Salmon or Atlantic Salmon (Fresh)
½ cup Slice of Pineapple (skin removed) (dice after being grilled)
¼ cup a Red Onion (diced)
1 cup of Green Cabbage (cut into thin slices)
1 cup Spinach (cut into thin slices)
¼ cup Vine Ripe Tomato (diced)
2 small 6 inch Soft Tortilla Shells
Fresh Cilantro with stems removed
Salt & Pepper to taste
Method of Prep
Get your grill nice and hot to prevent sticking. (Salmon will stick on a cold grill.)
First grill mark on one side of a 5 oz piece of Salmon. (Season with Salt & Pepper)
After being grill marked move salmon to top rack and place grill on low to prevent charring or burning.
Cook for 7-10 Minutes or until sides of the salmon feels firm to touch.
Pull off grill and let rest for a few minutes.
Cut salmon into medium size chunks for your taco.
Bruch the taco shell with a little olive oil and grill mark while your grill is still warm, just to soften the taco shell and give it that grill flavor.
Slaw (Make the slaw before grilling fish)
Grill mark the pineapple and dice.
Dice the raw red onion.
Slice the cabbage thin.
Slice the spinach thin.
Dice the vine ripe tomatoes.
After all items are cut, mix them together in a bowl and drizzle a little olive oil to coat them.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
The juices from the pineapple, tomato and olive oil with create your sauce when everything is mixed together.
Assembling your Taco
Lay down your shell.
Fill with a few chunks of freshly grilled salmon.
Top with your grilled pineapple slaw
Place Cilantro right on top, the more the better! (Just use the leaves no stems)
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