Who doesn’t love a barbecue in the warm summer months or even well into fall when the weather allows for it? Some people even enjoy winter barbecues thanks to fire pits and patio heaters. Barbecues are such a great way to cook food, and there is something communal and social about the entire process. You can invite friends and family over, share food with neighbours, or make it a more intimate meal just for two. However, grilling meat at high heat and eating a lot of it can be bad for you. It’s not good for your weight, your blood pressure, or your heart and cholesterol. Some studies even suggest that cooking meat at a high temperature makes it a carcinogen. So because no one wants to stop eating barbecue, here are some ways to make it more healthy.
Marinate The Meat
If you can marinate your meat, and even your vegetables if the occasion and flavour call for it, you are being healthier, assuming you use a spicy marinade. The spices in red peppers and chilis, for example, can combat a variety of illnesses and make you generally healthier. For an even better marinade, make your own from scratch so you know exactly what’s in it. Why stop there, though? You can also make your own seasoning for your fries, or perhaps make a coating for your chicken.
A marinade with alcohol in it is another healthy way to cook your food on the grill. Red wine is especially good as this carries a lot of excellent antioxidants. For example, you could marinade your dry-aged steak in red wine for around six hours before cooking it, and this will decrease the number of carcinogens present, perhaps by as much as 40 per cent when compared to non-marinated meat.
Don’t Make It So Hot
The higher the temperature you cook your food, the worse it is for you. Although you definitely want it to be cooked so you don’t give yourself food poisoning (crucial in the case of chicken which can be extremely dangerous if eaten raw), if it is well done, you are making it (and yourself) unhealthy. Ideally, you should be cooking things below 325oF because anything above this temperature is when HCAs (heterocyclic amines – chemicals that form when meat is heated) begin to form.
If you’re not sure what temperature you’re cooking at, buy a cooking thermometer so that you can ensure the temperature doesn’t get too high but do your research as to minimum temperatures too; for example, burgers should have a minimum internal temperature of 160oF if you want them to be edible.
Use Your Microwave
Before placing any meat on the grill itself, blast it in the microwave for two minutes. This won’t cook the meat, but it will decrease the amount of HCAs that will form, perhaps by as much as 90 per cent. Don’t be tempted to save the juice to make a sauce, spicy marinade, or gravy either, because that is where you’re most likely to find HCAs. Just throw it out and enjoy the meat itself.