Summertime brings out the master griller in many of us. But typical grill fare like burgers and ribs are loaded with fat and calories. Processed meats like hot dogs and brats are also full of sodium, chemicals and fat.
Sharon Day, Director of Nutrition at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Western Regional Medical Center, adds, “Grilling meats at high temperatures can increase the risk of cancer-causing compounds.”
So is grilling healthy impossible? The key is to make the right choices, says Day.
Here are Day's suggestions for how to grill healthy:
- Grill less meat and more veggies and fruits. Day recommends grilling asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, radicchio or romaine lettuce, eggplant, corn, apples and pineapple. When you do grill meat, limit portions to 4 ounces (about the size of your palm) a person.
- Go lean. Select lean proteins like skinless chicken or turkey breast, flank steak and fish such as salmon, tuna and shrimp.
- Marinate meats in a citrus marinade. Citrus marinades have vitamin C, which Day says can protect the meat from forming cancer-causing compounds. Citrus also provides delicious zest and helps tenderize the meat.
- Use spices with known health benefits. Herbs and spices such as cumin, turmeric and cinnamon may also protect the meat you’re grilling and are good for you. For example, turmeric contains curcumin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that is being researched for its potential anticancer properties. Also recommended: oregano, rosemary, mint, dill, cilantro, sweet basil, thyme, tarragon and lemon balm.
- Trim the fat off the meat. This prevents the fat from dripping down into the grill and may also help limit cancer-causing compounds. In general, the less fat, the better for you.
Get more healthy grilling tips and recipes from Frank Caputo, the executive chef at CTCA at Western Regional Medical Center. Watch these how-to videos:
Recipe: Grilled Salmon with Orange Fennel Salsa
For the salsa:
- 1 cup finely diced fennel bulb
- 1/2 cup orange sections
- 10 green olives, pitted and sliced
- 1/4 cup roasted red pepper
- 2 tbsp drained, bottled small capers
- 1 tbsp fresh orange juice
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
For the salmon:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 8, 4 oz portions of salmon
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp white pepper
In a mixing bowl, mix the first seven ingredients. Mix the olive oil and lemon juice and brush the salmon filets. Season fish with salt and pepper. Clean the grill with a little olive oil on a cloth. Place the salmon on the grill and cook until cooked through. Remove from the grill and plate, then top with the salsa and serve.