Coach G’s Nutrition Corner: Sun’s Out, Grill’s Out!
It’s that time of year again, barbeque time. Grilling is one of my favorite ways to prepare a meal. It gets you out in the sun with some good friends and if done right, even better foods. But nowadays the media overlords are saturating us with information about what is good and what is bad, and barbequing is no exception. Some people would tell you that grilling foods is dangerous and unhealthy and truthfully, they may be on to something. So, what I am going to do is talk a little more about the barbeque process, so you can have the best game plan to enjoy your next neighborhood picnic. What are we looking for exactly? Heterocyclic Amines (HCA’s) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH’s) are both chemical compounds that become present in the high temperature cooking of meats, when meat is charred or blackened, or when fat drips onto the grill. These chemical compounds are commonly found in barbequed meats because our typical barbeque consists of very high temperatures, lower quality bulk meats, and extended cooking times. So, what can you do to protect yourself? Follow these steps to make the most out of your grilling experience. Start by selecting the highest quality, minimally processed lean meats. Prepare the food ahead of time by marinating and cutting them into small, easily cooked pieces. Line the grill with foil to reduce flare-ups and drips. Flip the meat frequently during cooking, and MOST IMPRTANTLY cook the meat at a medium-high heat to ensure you do not blacken or char the meat. Aim to cook meats to a medium-rare state, try to avoid well-done meats as they require more time in the heat and more opportunity to build up those nasty chemicals. Now if you still feel that barbequing is not the healthiest way to eat, fine, try to limit the consumption of barbeque to the occasional basis. I do not recommend only grilling your foods, but it is a common cooking method, and it should be enjoyed safely this time of year. Plan-ahead, make sure you keep the temperatures within range, and enjoy!