TIPS FOR A HEALTHY SUMMER BBQ
Welcome everyone to our first Blog of July and another WHAT’S ON THE MENU MONDAY. And, as luck would have it, we’re just in time for the FOURTH OF JULY. So, let’s devote this piece to the Traditional Summer BBQ – and the ways we can make it safe and healthy as well as enjoyable.
I don’t know about you, but in my family a BBQ typically involves hot dogs and hamburgers. Yet, we hear so much these days about the health hazards of eating these American classics. So, what’s the truth? Should we be worried?
Well, let’s start with the hot dog. The issue here centers on the nitrite content found in all processed meats, including our beloved hotdog. Nitrites, of course, have been linked to the development of many diseases, including prostate, colon and ovarian cancer.
Here’s what you need to know about hot dogs:
- Sodium nitrites are different from sodium nitrates. Sodium nitrate is a natural antioxidant and building block of many veggies, fruits and grains. Our digestive process converts sodium nitrates into sodium nitrites.
- Sodium nitrite is a preservative found in processed meats, including hot dogs. During the cooking process under high heat, nitrites combine with amines also found in meat to form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens.
- Even “natural” or “organic” hot dogs labeled “no added chemical nitrites” may contain natural nitrites like celery juice. Whether you buy turkey dogs, chicken dogs, kosher dogs or other ethnic varieties they are all processed meats and may contain harmful preservatives.
- It is virtually impossible to find a hot dog with no added synthetic or natural nitrites.
SOLUTION: Always look for fresh meats or sausages instead of packaged hotdogs. Frozen sausages are a healthier alternative as well because they are not preserved with sodium nitrites. AND, if you still just can’t do without a hot dog, eat them in moderation and not as a steady diet.
And, what about hamburgers?
- Purchase fresh or frozen hamburger that is not preserved with sodium nitrites.
- Make sure your hamburger is labeled “organic” and “grass fed.”
- A lower fat content also will result in a healthier burger.
- Keep the patties under six ounces in size and skip the cheese 😊
Finally, general BBQ TIPS for everything else:
- High temperatures during grilling result in the formation of cancer-causing chemicals known as heterocyclic amines or HCAs.
- HCAs form specifically in the charred or blackened parts of BBQ meats.
- HCAs can be reduced dramatically by marinating your meat before grilling.
And, here are two great HEALTH-PROMOTING MARINADES you might want to try:
- ROSEMARY DRY RUB:
Crush plain rosemary into a dry rub.
Cover your choice of meat with the rub and let it sit for a few hours before grilling.
- THAI SPICE RUB:
Combine equal parts turmeric, finger root and galangal.
Crush and mix spices together.
Cover beef, fish, poultry or pork with the rub and let sit for a few hours before grilling.
FACT: A simple dry Rosemary Rub will reduce the formation of HCAs on our BBQ meat by 60 to 70 percent. AND, a Thai Spice Rub will reduce the HCAs by 40 to 42 percent!
Now, for a few FINAL TIPS on hosting the perfect healthy BBQ:
- Lower the heat of your grill a bit to avoid burning and the formation of HCAs.
- In the alternative, avoid eating the crunchy, blackened parts of your BBQ.
- Avoid marinades with high amounts of sugar as these actually can double or triple the HCA levels in our BBQ.
We all love summer and we all love spending time around the BBQ with family and friends. And, with these simple tips we can ENJOY ourselves and ENSURE our BBQ will not only be Happy but Healthy as well!
Thanks for joining me everyone. I wish you all a Wonderful 4th of JULY. Have Fun — Be Safe – And, until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .