Go beyond grilling the ubiquitous hotdogs and hamburgers before the year ends and continue the “tradition” in 2014. Expand your culinary repertoire and venture into the world of gourmet recipes to include grilled chicken, calamari, vegetables, lobster, lamb, shrimp and even pizza! The smoky flavour, the delectable aroma and the succulent taste are qualities of grilled food that have relegated anything flame-cooked as either good or bad.
Over the past years, grilled food has taken some bad rap, but this is mainly because the meats being grilled don’t have their fat portions trimmed and are therefore short of being considered as healthy food recipes that are high in calories, cholesterol, and saturated fats. And then there are the PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and the HCAs or heterocyclic amines, compounds that have the potential to cause cancer.
The Downside of Grilling: It can be Avoided
HCAs are formed when poultry, fish, and red meat meet high heat temperatures directly such as those in grilling. When meat fat drips onto hot flaming coals or the grill element during cooking, PAHs are formed and subsequently deposited on the food itself because of the rising smoke that penetrates the food being grilled.
That said, there are some ways to counter the adverse effects of HCAs and PAHs when grilling food. After all, grilled food is a healthier choice because there is no dripping grease or batter coating. Below are some recommendations which may be considered before embarking on a grilling spree.
Remember these Tips before Grilling
Fruits and vegetables are perfect for grilling. HCAs and PAHs do not form on vegetables and fruits when they are grilled. Onion, mangoes, sweet green and red bell peppers, pineapples, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, apples, endive, and pears all come out excellent in taste, flavour, and texture when grilled.
Lean meat cuts. Meats that have their visible fat portions trimmed decrease the fat amount that drips on the coals. Simply put, less or no fat on the meat results in non-formation of PAHs and HCAs, reducing the possibility of these cancer-causing compounds to inhabit the meat being cooked.
Marinate. Marinating food before it is grilled has been found to reduce HCA formation between 92% and 99%. Besides, marinades infuse so much more flavour not only into meats but in vegetables and fruits as well. Using fat-free, low-sodium and low-fat marinades also reduce the fat that gets soaked up by the food. Use lemon and lime juices, honey, garlic, herbs like tarragon, thyme, and rosemary, spices like cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric, wine, vinegar, apple cider, and low-sodium soy sauce to make food items more savoury and delicious before grilling.
Some Grilled Favorites Recipes
Take the humble grilled cheese up a notch higher by doing variations such as the addition of fresh tomato slices and lean ham or using Monterey Jack instead of American cheese and adding some chopped jalapeños. Or mix a half cup each of low-fat cream cheese and feta (goat) cheese and eight pieces of peppadew peppers which have been coarsely chopped. Sweet and savory tastes in a grilled cheese sandwich can include delightful combinations such as camembert, pears, and walnuts or pineapple, ricotta, and pistachios.
Grilled Flank Steaks Korean-style
Serve grilled flank steaks Korean-style by slicing them thinly and having guests make their own rolls with the steak slices using lettuce leaves as wrappers and adding other garnishing such as grilled shiitake mushrooms, julienne carrots, minced green onions, chopped sweet bell peppers, mint leaves, cucumber slices, and minced cilantro. Or do a London Broil that has been previously marinated in balsamic vinegar, raw honey, thyme, sage and grated red onions. Or marinade lamb in apricot juice, oregano, jalapeños, and brown sugar before grilling to give it a sweet aroma and spicy flavor.
Grilling the Healthy Way
The less time meat, fish or poultry is grilled, the less chance there is of HCAs and PAHs being formed. Pre-cooking meat, poultry or fish in the microwave or oven cuts down the time it spends on the grill element. Flipping the food can also help prevent HCA and PAH formation. Learn how to turn meat, fish or poultry without necessarily piercing its skin so as to release the juice or fat that drips onto coals or the grill itself by using a spatula or tongs in turning the food over.
Finally, a fun way to grill is to use skewers, which significantly reduces grilling time. One of the many healthy recipes using seafood include shrimp, oysters, scallops, and mussels that are marinated in vodka, raw honey, a little cinnamon, cloves, a dash of brown sugar and some cayenne pepper and then skewered alternately with vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, sweet onions, and cherry tomatoes before grilling.
My Author Bio:
My name is Michelle Gail Wales Snyder born on July 13, 1971. I am an author, blogger, traveler and teacher. I earned my post-graduate at The University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and have been teaching arts to students of all ages. I write mysteries, tips and nutrition in foods and how it affects person’s way of thinking or living. Traveling around the world is a hobby that brings me closer to one thing and inspires me in writing articles and blogs. I am also passionate in cooking with different cuisines around the world.