Our beautiful Michigan weather is upon us and getting outside to grill is a favorite pastime. However, traditional grilling can have unhealthy effects and increase your cancer risk if you’re not careful.
Substances in the muscle of different meats, such as red meat, poultry, or seafood under high heat can produce carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Unfortunately, these compounds can alter DNA and gene expression, which may promote cancer cell development. Although the evidence is still unclear whether there is a direct link between high consumption of these compounds and cancer, there are a few easy guidelines to follow to help reduce your risk while still enjoying grilling season in Michigan.
Check out the video from my WZZM segment here.
A Guide to Healthy Grilling:
Keep your grill clean!
Be sure to brush your grill clean before and after each grilling session to help reduce the buildup of charred residue. Charring or burning can increase the HCA and carcinogenic content.
Avoid charring or burning your food.
By using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of meats, you are less likely to overcook your meat. Even better, turn down the heat and cook for a longer period of time instead of high heat for a short period of time to reduce the risk of charring.
Use lean cuts of meat or experiment with grilling fruits and vegetables.
Fatty cuts of meat drip more from the fat and cause fire flare-ups and smoke, which produces a different carcinogenic compound called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s). Your best bet is grilling fruits and vegetables, which don’t form HCA’s and can actually deactivate the production of HCA’s due to their phytochemical, vitamin, and mineral content.
Marinate your meats and flip them frequently while grilling.
By marinating meats, you can reduce the HCA formation during grilling. Flipping your meat every minute can help reduce the risk of charring or burning.
Easy enough, right? Just remember, don’t burn it! Now get out there and enjoy this beautiful weather 🙂
Here is one of my favorite grilling recipes for a healthy dessert. You can substitute peaches for pears depending on your preference.
Grilled Peaches with Cinnamon Honey Ricotta
- 4 peaches, halved and the pit removed
- 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta
- 2 teaspoons honey, plus more for drizzling on top
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling on top
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a small bowl whisk together the ricotta, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat your grill to medium high heat.
- Brush a little oil or melted butter onto the cut side of the peaches.
- Place the peaches cut side down onto the hot grill.
- Grill the peaches for about 3 minutes or until they are warm and marked.
- Top the peaches with the cinnamon honey ricotta mixture.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle with more honey.