By: Kelly Atyeo, B.A.Sc., M.H.Sc., P.H.Ec.
You’re walking in your neighbourhood and you smell something. It’s not the flowers or the fresh grass. It’s that savoury smell of the grill that screams – SUMMERTIME!
Now the fun begins: entertaining outside, casual dining, and time to show off your BBQ techniques!
The beauty of the BBQ is it can be used to create healthy summer meals for your family to enjoy.
How to Grill the Healthy Way
Grilling helps nutrient retention for certain vitamins and minerals and cuts back calories/fat in meat if excess fat is trimmed or drips off during cooking.1,2
Choose your ingredients wisely. From your main to your side dish, make sure you’re cooking with wholesome ingredients that will get a flavour boost from the grill.
Chicken & Fish!
Move over steak and beef burgers…grilling chicken and fish are a great way to cut back on fat and calories! However, because both of these meats are lean – you need to be careful not to overcook them. The best way to test whether your meat is cooked to perfection is by using a food grade thermometer.
Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. Chicken pieces should be cooked to 74 degrees Celsius (165°F) and fish 70 degrees Celsius (158°F).3,4
Veg & Fruit!
Did you know that when you grill vegetables and fruit it can help reduce nutrient loss? It also highlights their natural sweetness and flavour!5 So – grill some up!
Examples of vegetables & fruits that are great for grilling include: peppers, eggplant, zucchini, red onions, pineapples, bananas, peaches, and watermelon.
Keep their skin on and cut into large equal pieces so they don’t end up in the coals!5 Because vegetables and fruit contain a lot of water, they’ll be very hot when you take them off the grill – so ensure you let them cool.5
The Magic of Marinades
A marinade can completely transform your ingredients. Depending on which you choose – you can hit their savoury or sweet elements.
Savoury: These often contain balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and olive oil with a mixture of herbs. Experiment by adding oregano, thyme, rosemary and/or hot chilli flakes to either of these savoury bases. This type of marinade is great on chicken or vegetables and even fruits with higher sugar contents (peaches, pineapples, mangos, etc.)!
Try this Grilled Tuscan Chicken Breast for a yummy savoury marinade.
Savoury & Sweet: Often a mixture works well. Try adding honey, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a touch of chilli flakes to add kick to a simple dish. The following recipes have bright savoury and sweet flavours that are sure to brighten a summer meal!
Keep it Clean!
Like any kitchen tool – your grill must be cleaned and maintained to keep it a functioning safe piece of equipment. Different types of grills require a specific set of instructions for cleaning and maintenance.6 Always read the manufacturers’ instructions prior to cleaning.
In general, make sure you clean your grill with hot soapy water to remove leftover charred food that could contaminate your next meal!7
Watch the Heat
Some research suggests that when meat is cooked at a high temperature and charred, potentially harmful substances can form that may be linked to cancer.8,9
Here are some tips to reduce the amount of these compounds in your grilling:
- Microwave meat prior to grilling to reduce the time that it is in contact with super high heat8,9
- Avoid the meat touching the grill for extending periods of time (continually flip meat, cook in foil, etc.)8,9
- Remove fat that may drip onto the grill causing more smoke and flames8,9
- Cut off the charred portions meat before eating8,9
Fostering a fun and safe cooking space!
Hosting a BBQ is a relaxed, social event – however, don’t be relaxed about the safety of your cooking space.
Be aware of your surroundings:
- Ensure that your BBQ is set up in a ventilated area that approves its use.
- If there are children nearby, make sure that they aren’t running/playing close to the grill or the grill operator.
- Make sure the BBQ and all other equipment is safely turned off after use.
Happy healthy grilling from Chicken Farmers of Canada!
- Botsford Hospital. (2012). 4 Health Benefits of Grilling. Retrieved March 26, 2015, from www.botsford.org/blog/index.php/2012/06/25/4-health-benefits-of-grilling/
- Helderman, D. (2013). Is Grilled Food Healthy? Retrieved March 26, 2015, from www.livestrong.com/article/411351-is-grilled-food-healthy/
- Chicken Farmers of Canada. (2015). Chicken Cooking Times. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from www.chicken.ca/chicken-school/view/9/chicken-cooking-times
- Thomas-Tench, G., Kayhan, M., & Dykeman, J. (2004). Basics.FST – food safety training in Canada for food handlers. Toronto: ON, TrainCan Inc.
- Handschuh, C. & Gomes, J. (2015). Gear Up For the Grill! Retrieved January 31, 2015, from www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/gear-up-for-the-grill
- Aguirre, S. (2015). How Often Should I Clean My Grill?. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from housekeeping.about.com/od/kitchenideas/f/How-Often-Should-I-Clean-My-Grill.htm
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. (2015). Home Food Safety: The Rules of Separation at the Grill. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from homefoodsafety.org/separate/separation-at-the-grill
- National Cancer Institute at the National Institute of Health. (2010). Chemicals in Meat cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cooked-meats
- K-STATE Research and Extension. (n.d.). Johnson County. Retrieved March 9, 2015, from www.johnson.ksu.edu/p.aspx?tabid=356