Philadelphia, PA - Days spent covered in sunblock on the beach, grilling up some burgers and dogs over the open flame on the grill, before stargazing around a bonfire; that’s what summer is all about.
The smell of charcoals burning, the sun setting for what seems like a beautiful eternity and the excitement of collecting fireflies after a healthy and filling family meal is exactly what the doctor called for to treat a winter's worth of cabin fever. When you consider the multitude of dietary benefits combined with the pleasure and relaxation aspect, it’s no wonder grilling and backyard BBQ’s have become a great American pastime. Not to mention the wonderful memories you create with your friends & family.
Whether you have invited the whole neighborhood over on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, or you’re just grilling up a steak for a typical weeknight dinner, consider this: what are the odds that you will be outside grilling alone? Grills are like kitchens, they seem to be a magnet for people to gather around. Maybe you’re tossing the ball around the backyard, or possibly doing cannonballs into the deep end of your pool. Whether you think of it this way or not, you are exercising and burning calories. After all these backyard activities, it’s no wonder appetites are worked up. And that just makes the meal taste that much better!
Grilling your food usually means you will be consuming far less fat than you would through other methods of cooking. I would speculate that most are already aware of this, but the reason for this may not be so widespread. On the grill, as the food heats up and the fat starts cooking off, the fat drips onto the coals or burners on your grill. This creates more smoke, which incorporates that classic grill flavor into the foods we are eating. When roasting or sautéing, these drippings have nowhere to go but back into the pan, which leads to more fat in the pan for your food to reabsorb and increase your fat intake for that meal.
Grilled foods tend to retain more nutrients than other methods of cooking. Water-soluble vegetables are the most vulnerable to nutrient loss through cooking. The worst method to cook these is boiling, as the nutrients are lost through water contact. Grilling limits the amount of nutrient loss by not coming in contact with water. Another aspect of health to consider when grilling vegetables is you’re far more likely to use fresh, in-season vegetables. When it comes to meats, outside of the wonderful smoky flavor that’s incorporated from the grill, they too retain nutrients. The grill helps meat retain riboflavin and thiamine. Riboflavin, which is commonly known as vitamin B2 is necessary for cellular respiration. Thiamine or vitamin B1 is needed to metabolize carbohydrates in the body.
Family bonding helps bring families closer together. Seems obvious enough, but this sentiment is even truer when you add children to the equation. Bonding is a natural way to build trust between children and parents. Research has shown that spending quality time with teens allows for a more honest line of communication; that teens who regularly engage with family time are far less likely to slip into the pitfalls of. Studies also show that these same teens fair better in school by producing better grades and develop better social skills.
Over the years there has been speculation that grilled foods can be linked to certain types of cancer. This is true, but there are several ways to avoid these carcinogens that I would like to discuss here. There are two components to this theory; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and heterocyclic amines (HCA). Let’s look at PAH’s first, as this is the easiest one to avoid. PAH’s have been linked to colon cancer and are found in well-done foods, most specifically in the charred or “crispy” portions of the food that turn black from the grill. There are two easy ways to avoid these; try to not eat over cooked food from the grill and keep your grates clean of burnt food particles. HCA’S are formed from intense and concentrated high heat. Scientists are not 100% sure as to why this is true, but research has shown that marinating your meat with herbs, specifically thyme and/or rosemary, can cut back on HCA’s by up to 99%. Lastly, avoiding flare-ups when grilling is vital to the prevention of both carcinogens, and that can be done by keeping a spray bottle of water with you to put them out without putting out your coals.
Have I made you hungry yet? Are you craving a burger or a juicy chicken breast from the grill? Before you go running out to grab your bag of charcoal and lighter fluid, there are a few things to keep in mind. I want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable summer season, including safe grilling techniques. Always grill on a non-flammable surface that is a safe distance away from your house or other flammable materials like plants. All it takes is a strong gust of wind for your fire to reach something flammable, and before you know what happened, there is a serious problem. Fires can grow a lot faster than one may imagine or predict and wind can creep up without any notice. With fire in mind, it is also a good idea to keep a full fire extinguisher at the ready when using your grill. So now that you have everything needed for a safe, healthy and delicious grilling experience, go ahead and enjoy your summer full of backyard food and fun. For more tips and techniques for grilling or smoking, visit Bottled Thyme’s website Thyme To Grill at https://www.bottledthyme.com/copy-2-of-crock-pot-cooking-3