Americans like to barbecue. Whether it be for a fundraiser, church event, family reunion, or simply a weeknight dinner, the smell of grilling often permeates residential areas between the hours of 3-7 p.m. throughout summer.
And, why not? Barbecuing gets us outdoors, minimizes dirty dishes, and, most importantly, it’s healthy, right? …Right??
As healthy as we imagine barbecuing to be, 3 uninvited toxins secretly crash the party.
- AGE’s (advanced glycation end-products). These compounds occur naturally in foods (especially higher-fat meats), but are more dangerously enhanced and created by dry cooking at high temperatures.
- PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are created & can coat meat when it is either smoked, or cooked over an open fire and fat or juice drips down causing smoke and flames.
- HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) contaminate meat that is cooked to the point of being well-done, heavily browned, or charred.
>> PAH’s & HCA’s are both mutagenic, meaning they change DNA and may encourage new cells that grow into cancerous tumors. Animals studies have shown these two culprits to develop “tumors of the breast, colon, liver, skin, lung, prostate, and other organs… leukemia and tumors of the gastrointestinal tract and lungs.”
Well, now you know! It’s time to get your big, bad Bouncer pants on now & give those unwanted toxins the boot!
7 SURE-FIRE TIPS FOR HEALTHIER BARBECUING:
1. Go With Grass Fed Beef & Natural Pork Sausages.
Wait, pork and beef? Aren’t poultry and fish supposed to be the “healthy” options? Believe it or not, pork produces the lowest amount of HCA’s when cooked, and the water content in sausages helps to prevent formation of PAH’s. Grass-fed beef is another good choice; in addition to being a great source of omega-3’s and naturally lower in fat that grain-fed alternatives, grass-fed beef also contains lower levels of sugar which reduce the amount of AGE’s created when cooked over flames.
2. Flip, Flip, FLIP Those Burgers.
Constantly flipping your hamburger patties while grilling (i.e. every minute or so) can go a long way toward keeping your clean-eating clean. By avoiding charring & thick brown crusts, you will keep the creation of HCA’s at bay.
3. Use Herb Rubs.
Herbs to the rescue! Using thyme and rosemary (or other herbs high in anti-oxidants) can actually lower the creation of carcinogens while grilling and add flavor and pizzazz. And not to mention, rubs are less messy than sauces!
4. Make Your Own Sauces or Marinades… and Slather Them on Thick!
Marinades using acidic mediums like vinegar or citrus can discourage HCA formation, while pre-soaking adds moisture content to the meat, lowering PAH’s. Sauces slathered on thick can help “seal” fats and juices in the meat, resulting in in less fumes, smoke, & flames.
BUT BEWARE: There is nothing like a bottle full of sugar, artificial flavors, and preservatives to sucker-punch the health in your “healthy” meat. Fear not, friends, making your own toxin-kickin’ sauce or marinade is easy to do.
Would you rather go the marinade route? Try this fancy Paleo Coconut Lime option, or keep things a little more simple with my easy-peasy recipe below:
1/2 cup Coconut Oil, (where to buy)
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar (where to buy)
1/4 cup Chicken Bone Broth or Water
4 Tbsp Herbs (like organic rosemary or thyme)
Garlic, chopped, to taste
Real Salt & Pepper to taste
Mix the above ingredients in a non-plastic bowl. Add in 4 Organic Chicken Breasts, covering them well with liquid. Cover bowl and place in fridge for 15-30 min. Grill.
5. Re-evaluate Your Bun Situation.
Many store-bought buns are made with dyes, fillers, sugars, and preservatives. This homemade bun recipe from The Hippy Homemaker is great (pictured)! Or, if you prefer to stay low on your grain or carb intake, grill a couple slices of eggplant to sandwich your burger into!
6. Get Your “Salads” in Check.
We have all been to a barbecue where the “salad” table resembled nothing leafy or green. Sure, leaf-less salads can be healthy too, and I’m not saying we need to get rid of all potato, egg, quinoa, jello, pasta, etc salads. What I am saying is that a plate full of one of these usually fails to offer the same nutritional benefits as greens would, and tried-and-true family recipes are likely high in refined sugar and processed ingredients.
The solution? Well, a green salad with fresh veggies in it isn’t a horrible option! Or, simply commit to making your “salads” real and clean. Here are a few great examples: Jicama with Berries & Lime, Crisp Apple Coleslaw, Sweet Potato & Mango Salad.
7. Team Up With Your Dessert.
This Healthy Rocket Popsicle Recipe is a naturally sweet treat loaded with antioxidants and probiotics. Love lemonade? Then you HAVE to try Rehydrating Electrolyte Popsicles (pictured) to keep refreshed and your sweet tooth satisfied!
So, what do you think? Will you be trying any of my seven tips on for size this summer? Let me know in the comments below?