Grilling Vegetables

Grilled Veggies

The warm summer months are approaching, meaning that BBQ season is just around the corner. With this come the media messages about the dangers of barbecuing.  Although there can be some risks associated with grilling, if done properly, this form of cooking can be a great way to get outdoors and enjoy local summer foods.

When meat, especially red meat, is cooked using high heat (like on a BBQ) cancer causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are formed. These compounds are increased when fat drips off of the meat producing a hot flame and when meat gets burned. Below are some simple ways that you can reduce these compounds.

–          Cook meat at lower temperatures

–          Use a digital thermometer to check meat doneness and prevent overcooking

–          Marinade meats using low sugar marinades

–          Flip meat using tongs or a spatula instead of a fork

–          Precook meat using an oven, stove or microwave then finish it off on the BBQ

–          Choose lower fat meat options like fish or skinless chicken

Another way to reduce HCAs is to go meatless on the BBQ.  Explore a farmers market or your backyard to get the best picks of local and in-season vegetables and fruits. Look for recipes that use summer produce like beets, spinach, tomato, lettuce, peaches, onions, peas, strawberries, broccoli and zucchini. Below are a few tips to get you started:

–          Grill marinated peppers, zucchini and eggplant then toss them into a sandwich, add to a green or pasta salad or top a pizza

–          Try grilling up some portabella mushrooms with cheese and serve on a burger bun instead of using a hamburger patty

–          Make kebabs using lots of peppers, cherry tomatoes, onions and mushrooms and only a couple of pieces of meat

–          Grill up peach halves with brown sugar and serve for dessert

Canada’s Food Guide recommends that adults eat 7 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Be creative and enjoy the bountiful produce that summer has to offer.

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