Become a Grill Master; Plus Recipe for Veggies with Fresh Rosemary

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If you love the outdoors, there is no doubt you will most likely find yourself in front of or behind the grill at some point during warm weather. The question isn’t what to grill, it’s why choose to grill and how to grill. Almost any food can be grilled. The obvious choices are chicken, tri-tip, and burgers, but vegetables like summer squash, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and fruits like pineapple, plums and nectarines are also fantastic on the grill.

Benefits you’ll enjoy by grilling are being outdoors soaking up some much needed vitamin D and getting fresh air. When grilling, you tend to use less oil, so you save on both fat and calories. And grilling adds a distinctive somewhat smoky flavor to foods so it’s rare you need excess sauces for dipping. Or if you do like your dipping sauce, use it for just that: dipping. But keep it to the side so as not to bury the delicious natural grill flavors.

Conversely, grilling has been linked to cancer. Here are a few guidelines to be aware of to reduce your health:

1. Cooking meats, poultry and fish at high temperatures can result in the conversion of heterocylic amines (HCA’s) and this includes the grill! Grill at lower temperatures for a slightly longer period. Or partially grill and then finish the cooking process in the oven at 375-400 degrees, depending upon what you are cooking.

2. When fat and juices drip onto the coals during grilling, smoke is often generated, which contains the cancer causing chemical, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The smoke can deposit these PAHs to the surface of the meats just waiting for your consumption. Choose lean, low-fat cuts of meat and trim excess fat to prevent dripping, which causes the flames and resulting smoke.

MORE: Grilled Bison Burgers!

3. Choose smaller cuts of meats to minimize grill time.

4. Prevent flames from coming in direct contact with the meat by cooking on cedar planks and placing foods at least six inches from the heat source.

5. Grill vegetables and fruits. They are naturally fat-free so they don’t drip. Additionally, they lack the protein found in meats, poultry and fish, which may contain harmful HCAs. Use a vegetable grill basket to prevent them from falling through the grate.

Remember, when in doubt, grill over lower temperatures and avoid flame flare-ups as much as possible.

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