A Colorful, Healthy Backyard Barbecue

Grilling season is here. Backyard barbecues and picnics take center stage this weekend and beyond for family and friends’ gatherings.

But what you put on the grill and how you cook it can potentially affect your cancer risk.

Typical grilling fare includes burgers, hot dogs, steaks and sausages. However, eating processed meat and too much red meat is linked to higher rates of colorectal cancer. And using high heat to cook meat, poultry or fish, or charring it, leads to formation of cancer causing compounds, called HCAs and PAHs.

Put together a healthier barbecue that minimizes the risk but maximizes the flavor. Here you can read about 4 strategies to do that: Think low and slow, marinate the meat, partially precook and sizzle with fruits and veggies.

Grill up a menu that helps you and your guests follow a cancer-protective diet the New American Plate way: fill at least 2/3 of your plate with vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes and 1/3 or less with animal foods. Grilling vegetables brings out their sweetness and adds color to your spread.

Asparagus – Plunge spears into boiling water for 1 minute. Blot dry with paper towels. Line up 3-4 spears like soldiers and insert a toothpick through them 1-inch below the tips. Insert another toothpick 1-inch above the bottom. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes, turn and grill 2 minutes.

Broccoli – Select spears with fat stems. Cut off the stems 2 inches below the crown, then stand spears on end and cut them vertically into 3/4-inch slices. Blanch for 1 minute. Blot dry with paper towels. Brush slices lightly with olive oil. Grill for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes on each side.

Carrots – Cut off the top and bottom of a fat, medium-large carrot. Cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill slices for 3 minutes, turn and grill for 2 more minutes.

Portobello Mushrooms – Select mushrooms about 3-inches across. Discard the stems and use a small knife to pare away ragged edges. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill the mushrooms gill side up for 2 minutes, turn and grill for 2 minutes, or until no longer raw-looking inside at the thickest point.

Zucchini Squash – Cut off the top and bottom off a fat, medium-large squash. Cut the squash lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Brush lightly with olive oil. Grill for 2 minutes on each side.

What vegetables or fruit do you like to grill?


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