Friday, April 11, 2008

Safe(r) Springtime Grilling

Sunny and warm up and down the East Coast this week; birds are chirping and the 'dogs are smoking. Are you on my neighbors' wavelength? Have you gotten your grills out en masse?

I love our grill - it's quick cooking with easy cleanup. But grilling food at high temperatures creates nasty cancer-causing chemicals. Acrylamide (created when amino acids and sugars are subjected to heat above 248*F) may cause endometrial and ovarian cancer. (Great summary of the acrylamide issue here). Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCA and HAA) may cause breast and colon cancer. (Great summary of the HCA/HAA issue here). Then there's polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), formed from burning fat and smoke. Possibly leading to stomach cancer.

What can we do besides following a raw diet (acrylamides are in just about every high-temperature and processed food, including whole wheat bread and cereal)?

Keep the chemicals at bay by watching how you cook.

Safer grilling boils down to one herb (rosemary) and one technique (marinating).

Other common-sense techniques from
  1. Don't eat the blackened or charred parts of the meat. (MamaBird adds: our British relatives are nodding emphatically at the idea of avoiding "burned food" -- they don't bbq at all across the pond!).
  2. Use a drip pan or foil to prevent juices that cause smoke.
  3. Cook meat slowly over low heat.
  4. Don't let the flames touch the meat.
  5. Turn the meat with tongs instead of a fork to prevent the release of smoke causing juices.
  6. Use low-fat cuts of meat.
  7. Consider grilling skewered vegetables and fruits instead of meat. They do not produce carcinogens even when charred.
If all else fails, you can simply rely on this list of the eight worst foods in America (one of which is my standby airport snack - can you guess which one?) and at least steer clear of them after tucking into your ribs....


amy t sharp said...

I wanna grow rosemary!!!

MamaBird said...

Amy: It's a pretty tough plant - i left mine outside all winter (in a window box) and it's a-ok (not that it's supposed to be!).

paula said...

Call me crazyy,
but I really can not figure out why anyone would want to subject themselves, family and friends to such toxins. They don't leave your body either unless you do regular detoxes along with the raw foods. Im all for raw!

By the way anyone suffering from spring time allergies forget the claratin, and go raw(vegan).
I am a severe allergy sufferer and have proved it to myself by sticking to a raw and sugar free diet, and a netti pot.