I remember I was told as a young boy by my parents that grilling food is not healthy. It took me a long time to figure out that grilling or barbecuing isn’t bad. It is in fact how you grill your food that makes it bad. All the fear mongering and the false information have deprived me of almost a good one and a half decade of good grilled food. Thank goodness I have educated my parents all they need to know about grilling and we have been enjoying all our barbecued steaks, chicken breasts and mushrooms for quite some time now.
Now what is this misinformation that has been spreading around about barbecued food?
Allow me to explain”¦ Cooking techniques especially those at high temperatures have a higher risk of causing cancer. Barbecuing or grilling food happens to be one of it. Some of the leading cancer researchers in the country agree that cooking food at high temperatures can produce hazardous compounds that are potentially carcinogenic. But what is it about grilling that makes food hazardous to consume?
I’m not sure about you but charred meat tastes bitter and bad. The bad stuff that is produced through charred food/meat is a group of chemical compounds known as heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
So how do you cook healthy meals through grilling?
There are a number of things to look at. Some are rather practical and are common sense.
As with all things, without maintenance wear and tear will inevitably cause a product to breakdown. You need to ensure that your grills are properly cleaned of all the grime, oil and charred material before every session. The least you can do is to remove all the previous food remnants stuck on your cooking grate. I would suggest doing a routine clean after about 10 sessions of grilling. This is not only good for maintenance’s sake but also for your health in general. Charred food remnants are carcinogenic and you definitely not want any of them going into your stomach either.
Use a Thermometer
This gadget on your grill serves a purpose and that is to measure the temperature while you cook (obviously). An internal temperature of more than 270 degrees is bad. If you have a recipe, stick to the instructions and cook meats to the proper temperature. There is a relationship between formation of HCA compounds and high temperatures.
Choosing Your Meat
Some of you might know that processed food isn’t good for you. Things like sausage, bacon are high in nitrosamines. Alright, I can sense some disagreement on this because who doesn’t like eating those types of food? I admit that I do eat them but the healthier choice is definitely lean meat.
While Grilling Your Meat
Marinating your meat also reduces the likelihood of burning them while cooking besides adding good flavour to them. If you have burned parts, remove it especially the fatty areas. There are some grills that can minimize flare ups. If you own one of those like an infrared gas grill then you don’t have to worry about flare ups burning your food. A good tip to bear in mind is to trim off excess fat. When fat burns off it drips down below and causes flare ups. These flare ups can burn your food. Metal flavour bars can also prevent flare ups.
Another great way to cook meat is to marinate it with all the ingredients you desire and wrap it around with aluminium foil and place it on the grill until it is done.
As you can imagine, it isn’t so difficult to have a healthy and wholesome BBQ meal. I hope I have dispelled the myth that grilled food is unhealthy.