These five tips are helpful whether you are a vegetarian who wants to do outdoor cooking occasionally or you’re an occasional meat eater or Paleo advocate. Some of these tips are applicable no matter what your diet choices are.
(1) Choosing coals: If you’re using a grill powered by gas (butane), you won’t need this advice. But adding poison onto coals is silly. If you choose charcoal briquettes that are chemically treated for easier lighting, you’ll be adding toxic chemicals to the food as well. Ditto if you use lighter fluid or any other chemical flame starter to ignite your coals.
Lump coal is usually without chemical additives. It’s cheaper, but its inconsistent burning demands attention. There are some briquette charcoal products without chemicals that demand less attention also. You can find more on that by searching Google.
(2) Lighting coals: Electric coal fire starters are good but pricy options. Charcoal chimney fire starters are much cheaper. They look like portable metal chimneys with holes and a handle. The lower part is filled with crumpled newspaper, and the part at the top is where your charcoal goes.
The holes allow one to ignite the paper, and the chimney’s design forces air rapidly through holes to create a blast furnace that gets your coals burning fast. Then the chimney starter is lifted by the handle to dump the hot coals into your open grill. Here’s an example: (http://www.buydig.com).
(3) Choosing the least carcinogenic meats: Unless labeled “nitrate free,” processed meats, including hot dogs and sausages or bratwurst, are considered the most carcinogenic of all meats. Red meats rank highly also. Grilled chicken and fish are less carcinogenic.
Ironically, well done meat cooked even normally is up to 3.5 times more carcinogenic than rare or medium-rare meat. Find ways to grill at lower temperatures or shorten the grilling time.
Otherwise, what happens is that heterocyclic amines (HCAs) form in meats as they’re cooked in temperatures above 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Studies have determined that HCAs are definite carcinogens.
HCAs can become part of what you’re grilling or part of your lungs. Long cooking at high heat also raises the prospect of creating polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
(4)Reduce carcinogens with proper cooking: Fatty meats can drip onto hot coals or even the metal that’s part of a gas grill, and the smoke that it produces contains PAHs. Avoid breathing it in.
You can minimize and maybe eliminate the carcinogenic yield of meat by mixing it with veggies, as with shish kabob. A well placed drip shield, proper ventilation and not breathing in the smoke from fat drippings is helpful for minimizing PAHs.
The cancer-protective polyphenols from shish kabob veggies is a tasty way to counteract HCA carcinogens from grilled meat. Marinating prior to grilling works even better to help protect against the meats’ HCAs. It can be for as long or short as you like, a half-hour even, but longer marinating creates better flavors.
The following herb choices for marinating in a vinegar base have been tested as effective for reducing HCA compounds: rosemary (especially), thyme, garlic, red pepper, oregano, mint and sage. Any combination of those with rosemary would substantially reduce HCAs.
(5) Don’t eat the charred meat: You can get away with eating charred veggies and fruits like pineapple chunks on your kabob stick. But eating charred meat may provide you with a lot of the HCAs and PAHs you had eliminated by marinating.
Enjoy a healthier approach to outdoor grilling during this summer.