Healthy BBQ Tips & Tricks

There is nothing like cooking and eating al fresco under the summer sun. It is a fantastic opportunity to eat fresh, lightly grilled summer vegetables, cool salads and delicious omega-3 packed wild fish.

In order to ensure your BBQ is as healthy as it can be it is important to follow a few key tips when at the grill. First off, cooking meat, poultry and fish at high temperatures on the BBQ can lead to the meat being charred.  This blackening of the meat leads to the formation of carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HAs). The National Cancer Institute (in US) found that HAs may increase the risk of colon, stomach and other cancers.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that you can take a few simple steps to reduce the formation of HAs.

  • Marinating your meats, poultry and fish with garlic, ginger, turmeric, wine, beer, lemon juice or rosemary have all been found to reduce HA formation.
  • Reduce heat. Temperature is the most significant factor in HA formation. Reduce the grill to medium or try pre-cooking your meat/poultry gently on the stove and then finish off on the BBQ to incorporate the smoky flavour.
  • Reduce cooking time. The longer the cooking time, the more HAs are formed.
  • Veggies! HAs do not form on vegetables.
  • Crack open a cold one. One study showed that drinking beer neutralizes the cancer-forming activity of the HAs. Darker or stout beers appear to have the strongest neutralizing affect.

Another trick is to use the BBQ like an outdoor oven and protect your fish from the flames with a base of citrus slices and herbs. The fish absorbs the wonderful flavours of the oranges, lemons and herbs as it “bakes” on the BBQ. Try the salmon recipe below at your next BBQ for a delicious, healthy alternative to burgers and steaks.

 

CITRUS SALMON

Serves 8.

Wild salmon (about 3 lbs)

4 Lemons

2 Oranges

1 Small bunch cilantro

1 Small bunch Italian parsley

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Slice lemons and oranges into 1/4 inch rounds. Make a bed for the salmon by laying the citrus slices along the BBQ. Then place the cilantro and parsley on top. Lay the salmon, skin side down, over the herbs and season with salt & pepper. Close the BBQ and cook salmon for between 20-30 minutes depending on thickness. When serving use two large spatulas to carefully transfer the salmon along with the citrus and herbs to a large platter.  Serve along side a green salad, grilled veggies and a few new potatoes. Enjoy.

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2 thoughts on “Healthy BBQ Tips & Tricks

  1. Great tips and a timely update as I was looking for a yummy salmon dish to prepare and here I just got a whole lot more info on the pros and cons of bbq’s! Thanks!

  2. Thanks! It is SO helpful to have this explained clearly with ideas for how to be careful and healthier without giving up what we love.

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