With summer in full swing and July 4th right around the corner, now’s the perfect time for grilling. Although grilling is a great way to add a smoky flavor to food, there are some downsides to this cooking method. Barbecue grills are mostly used to cook meat, and the high heat and smoke can cause harmful substances to form in these foods. Carcinogens and compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) formed during grilling may increase your risk of cancer.
On this fourth of July, treat your family and friends to a healthy, delicious and cancer-protective backyard barbecue featuring a patriotic red, white and blue menu.
Brightly colored seasonal and familiar favorites like watermelon and blueberries are always welcome, but it’s also a great time to introduce new food ideas that fit on AICR’s New American Plate – a plant-focused way of eating for cancer prevention.
If you’re planning on firing up the grill over Memorial Day Weekend, plan to marinate your food before cooking. Marinating is a centuries-long practice that tenderizes, flavors and preserves vegetables and meat. Some evidence even shows it may reduce formation of cancer-causing substances that are produced when meat is grilled.
Marinating also lets you be creative. Usually, marinades use acidic liquids like lemon juice and vinegar, with herbs, spices, garlic and other condiments such as mustard. But marinades contain a culture’s style – rice wine vinegar and ginger in Asia, mango or lime in Central and Southern America, chiles and yogurt in India and lemon and cinnamon in the Middle East.
Marinade ingredients like these are healthy, fat-free and rich in taste. When you marinate meat, poultry and fish, be sure to discard the marinade in which the meat soaked. If you want, before you add it to the meat, set some aside to use for basting the meat during cooking.