Father’s Day is fast approaching (June 17th) and I don’t know about you, but when I hear Father’s Day, I think BBQ. This father’s day, give your dad the gift of a long healthy life with these Healthy BBQ tips, and keep him around for many more father’s days to come!
Reduce the Temperature – Fight Cancer
Research has now shown that smoke from fat dripping onto the grill and charred meat caused when cooking meat at high temperatures can cause carcinogens called Heterocyclic Amines (HCA) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) to deposit on the meat. One study found those who eat well-done meat on a regular basis: be it grilled, barbecued, fried, or broiled, were 60% more likely to get pancreatic cancer.
- Trim any visible fat off meat and/or choose leaner cuts to prevent fat drippings.
- Flipping meat often can help reduce carcinogens contact time with the meat’s surface and therefore reduce its ability to form on it.
- Spread aluminum foil on the grill to cause a barrier between meat and flare-ups. (Make small holes in the foil to allow fat to drain).
- HCAs have been found to form at temperatures beginning at 325F. Try to cook your meat at lower temperatures.
Marinate! Marinate! Marinate!
A study conducted in 2008 suggested that marinating meat (especially with marinades including garlic, onions and fresh herbs) significantly reduces the formation of HCAs. Marinades are of course also a great way to tenderize lean meats.
Save dad some extra sodium and calories by making the marinade. Some great low-calorie options include: Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, low-sodium soy sauce, lemon juice, and even wine! Adding small amounts of sweet stuff like orange juice or honey to marinades can also be really yummy, but remember the sugar can encourage meat to burn, so use sparingly.
One of the easiest ways to marinate is with resealable plastic bags. Cut a couple of ¼ inch deep cuts into the meat to ensure it soaks up the marinade. Make sure the meat or vegetables are completely coated in the marinade and eliminate any excess air from the bag once sealed. Keep the marinating bag in a bowl in the fridge until you are ready to cook. Do not marinade meat and vegetables in the same bag. Throw the marinade away once done. Don’t reuse it or use it for basting.
Bring on the Veggies
One of the easiest ways to make BBQ-ing healthier is to have more vegetables. In my opinion a vegetable can’t taste any better than when it’s grilled, and vegetables don’t carry carcinogens like meat does. My favorites are: Portobello mushrooms, bell peppers, eggplant and zucchini. Cut them in appropriate thickness for the grill and marinate them or lightly coat them with olive oil before grilling. Another great idea is to cover a sweet potato in foil and plop it on the grill for a delicious baked potato. Remember not to overcook vegetables. The longer vegetables are cook the more they lose all of their nutrients and vitamins.
Chicken in da Buff
When grilling chicken, take the skin off before cooking. Take it all off baby! Half the saturated fat in chicken is in the skin. By taking it off BEFORE cooking you won’t lose any flavoring from marinades or seasonings with the skin as you would if you take the skin off right before eating.
Watch your Portions
Remember you only need a protein portion of about the size of your fist at each meal. Research has shown that eating a full plate on a smaller plate tricks your brain into thinking it had more to eat. Other ways to encourage smaller portions:
- Make smaller hamburger patties
- Make kabobs with smaller pieces of meat and more vegetables
- Serve sausages cut in half lengthwise instead of serving it whole
Broaden your Horizons
Most people think of red meat when it comes to BBQ, but salmon and turkey burgers are great alternatives to beef burgers. Try a swordfish steak instead of a beefsteak for a healthy way to switch things up. Don’t forget to eat whole grain buns, and try having an open-faced burger (only one side of the bun) to lower your bread intake.
Say No to Processed Meat
The American Institute for Cancer Research found that eating processed meat on a regular basis increased the risk for colorectal cancer by 42%. These meats are also known to cause excess weight gain, chronic inflammation, high cholesterol and heart disease. Processed meats include hot dogs, sausages, bacon, ham, and cold cuts. If you must have a hotdog go for lean beef, chicken, turkey or soy hot dogs. All of which are lower in saturated fat than regular dogs.
Clean your Grill
Have the kids clean the grill as a bonus gift for Pops. Cleaning the grill before every use will decrease the amount of char you will be ingesting, which will lower the likelihood of carcinogens deposits and reduce free radical damage. Charred meat has been found to cause free radical damage on the body, which has been linked with premature aging, disease, and tissue damage. So keep dad looking younger with a clean grill! As mentioned above, one of the easiest ways to reduce red meat consumption and to increase veggie consumption is by making kabobs with more veggies and smaller pieces of meat.
Below is a great recipe to get you moving in the right direction. Remember to enjoy your dad while he’s still around. Every day counts!
Happy Father’s Day!
4 servings (2 skewers each)
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 2 large resealable bags
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 Bell Peppers (your choice of color), sliced
- 10 ounces white mushrooms, stemmed
- 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small red onion, cut into wedges
- 1 pound filet mignon steak, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, cut into 4 pieces
- 8 12-inch skewers, or kabob sticks
PREPARATION: 1. Cut all the vegetables accordingly. 2. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, oregano, soy sauce and pepper in a large bowl and mix together to create marinade. 3. Place steak chunks into one resealable bag and all the vegetables in the other. Reserve ¼ cups of marinade in a small bowl for later. Pour half of the remaining marinade into the bag with meat and the other half in the vegetable bag. Seal bags and remove any excess air. Turn the bags to ensure that all the content in coated in the marinade. Refrigerate bags for up to 8 hours. 4. If using wooden skewers/kabob sticks soak them in water for a few minutes to prevent the exposed ends from burning off during grilling. Thread the vegetables and meat alternating onto skewers. Drizzle the made kabobs with the reserved marinade. 5. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. 6. Grill kabobs until meat and vegetables have reached desired doneness. Turn skewers a few times during grilling.