Five suggestions for making a day of grilling really sizzle – LA Daily News
Sizzling summer temperatures signal that it’s time to take cooking out of the kitchen and into the great outdoors.
Grilling is a fun and relaxing way to enjoy your favorite seasonal foods with friends and family. Whether you’re at the park, a campsite or your own home, before firing up the barbecue, consider keeping food safety and healthy eating top-of-mind.
Keep food safe
When preparing foods on a hot grill, it’s important to keep raw and cooked meat separated from utensils.
Of course, using the same tongs to flip both raw and cooked meat may spread dangerous bacteria, so have two sets on hand. Temperature can be difficult to control on the barbecue, especially when using a charcoal grill.
A meat thermometer is the safest and most reliable way to help gauge when food is thoroughly cooked. Cook poultry to 165 degrees, hamburger patties to 160 degrees and seafood to 145 degrees to prevent food-borne illness.
Choose proteins wisely
Think beyond hamburgers and hot dogs, which are typically higher in saturated fat, and opt for leaner proteins with more nutritional value.
Your best choices include chicken, turkey and fish. Individual salmon fillets or a whole side of salmon seasoned with fresh herbs and lemon juice can be wrapped in foil and placed directly on the hot grill.
Plus, as a nutritionally-dense protein source, seafood is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which contributes to better brain and heart health. That’s why the recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming at least two servings of seafood per week.
Barbecues are not just about the meat and, in fact, vegetables can easily be the star of the show with the right preparation. Grilling vegetables helps bring out their best flavors and textures.
Choose veggies that can be cut into half-inch to 1-inch thick pieces that sit flatly on the grill, such as zucchini, onion, portobello mushrooms and bell peppers. Ears of corn and asparagus also taste delicious grilled, and can be wrapped in foil or cooked on a grilling tray for optimal cooking.
Let flavor shine
Spice rubs and marinades are great for adding flavor to grilled food, but be cautious of packaged and bottled store products that are often full of sugar, salt and other unwanted additives.
By combining acid, like pineapple juice or balsamic vinegar, with herbs, spices and extra virgin olive oil, you can make a healthy homemade marinade. Spices like cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder and coriander add flavor to food without the salt. Vegetables can be flavored with garlic, lemon, spices, herbs and a touch of oil to elevate their flavor to the next level.
Some studies have shown that eating charred meat cooked at high temperatures increases cancer risk due to the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Adding the spice turmeric when grilling meats is known to reduce the presence of HCAs. Use about one to two teaspoons of turmeric per 3.5 ounce serving to maximize the effects.
Better grilling practices
Make sure to heat up the grill 15 to 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking. Be organized and have a basic game plan so you are ready with your ingredients, tongs, platters and other necessary tools when you start grilling.
Place items that take longer to cook on the grill first and hold off on throwing on foods that require less cooking until the right time. Pat marinated foods dry to avoid drippings that cause flare ups, which contribute to more charring. There’s nothing that says summer more than a laid-back barbecue. Next time you grill, spice it up with healthy proteins, bold flavors and seasonal veggies while keeping food safety in mind.
LeeAnn Weintraub, a registered dietitian, provides nutrition counseling and consulting to individuals, families and organizations including the National Fisheries Institute. She can be reached at RD@halfacup.com.