It’s time to bring the grill out from under cover!

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Tis’ the season for that favorite fair weather cooking activity! Grilling is a fantastic way to serve up delectable, flavorful meals with ease while maximizing nutrition. While you enjoy these favorite grillables, be sure to follow some basic techniques to help reduce the risk of carcinogen formation. There has been quite a bit of research demonstrating the formation of an assortment of cancer-causing compounds while grilling meats. But don’t let that stop you from grilling this summer. Instead, follow these simple steps to maximize flavor and nutrition and minimize the formation of carcinogens.

1. Marinate your Meat: Researchers have found that marinating steaks prior to grilling can reduce carcinogens in the cooked meat by 57 to 88 percent. The reason this works is not clear, with some suggesting that the marinade forms a barrier between the meat’s protein and the heat of the grill, and others suggesting that antioxidants in the marinade combat the carcinogens upon contact. However, avoid sugar- or honey-containing marinades as these will combine with the protein and/or fat in the meat and can increase the carcinogen content by up to threefold!

2. Clean the Grill: Scrub your grill with a wire brush before and after grilling. This keeps the buildup of carcinogens on the grill grates to a minimum, and your food tastes so much better!

3. Avoid Flare-Ups: The best way to do this is grill only lean meats. Fattier cuts of meats cause the excess fat to drip onto the flames which creates smoke. This smoke contains a significant amount of carcinogens that are easily inhaled.

4. Beware of Burnt: Incinerated meat will contain more cancer-causing compounds. A bit of char is unavoidable (and tastes good), but do try to minimize this as the blackened portions of meat likely contain carcinogens. It is best to remove the charred portions before eating.

5. Work the Grill: Your grill may not be the same temperature throughout – some areas might have hot spots while other areas are cooler. Work the entire surface to keep certain areas from flaming more than others. And if you do have a flare up, simply move the food to the cooler part of the grill until the fire dies down.

6. Size and Time Matter: Smaller portions of meat cook faster, and this means less chance for carcinogen-formation. Cubed meat such as for kabobs, or thinner cuts of meat can speed up the cooking time, as can choosing a quick-cooking option such as shrimp or fish. Also, cook the food just to the recommended internal temperature to keep the time to a minimum (165 degrees for ground poultry; 160 degrees for ground beef or pork; 145 degrees for red meat steaks or chops). Finally, grilling slowly at a lower temperature (no higher than 300 degrees) will minimize carcinogen formation.

7. Think Beyond Meat! Grilling fruits and vegetables won’t create any cancer-causing compounds, so why not add some grilled veggies to your meal, and/or try some grill-friendly fruits such as peaches, pineapple or mango. In this way you can enjoy eating the MyPlate way – filling ½ your plate with veggies and fruits, and ¼ meat. Complete the plate with some grilled sweet potato wedges for a nutrient-dense starchy side!

For a delicious grilled zucchini recipe, contact Amber today! The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

Italian Grilled Zucchini and Red Onion Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)

All you need:

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 4 (1/2-inch-thick) slices red onion (about 1 large)

• 2 pounds small zucchini, cut lengthwise into (1/4-inch-thick) slices

• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

• 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shaved fresh ParmigianoReggiano cheese

• 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint

All you do:

1. Prepare grill to medium-high heat. Coat with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle zucchini mixture with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; toss gently to coat. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a grill rack; grill 4 minutes on each side or until zucchini is tender and vegetables are well marked. Remove zucchini from grill; reduce grill heat to medium-low. Grill onion an additional 5 minutes or until tender. Combine zucchini, onion, and vinegar in a large bowl, tossing to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, cheese, and mint.

Nutrition Information per serving: calories 63, fat 3.3 g, satfat 1.2 g, monofat 1.7 g, polyfat 0.3 g, protein 3.5 g, carbohydrate 5.9 g, fiber 1.6 g, cholesterol 4 mg, iron 0.6 mg, sodium 215 mg, calcium 86 mg.

RECIPE FROM: Cooking Light

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.