Green grilling: Alternatives to meaty barbecue

Eating Well: A column by Paul Webster
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 7/2/19

It is grilling season, you can smell it in the air if you walk around your neighborhood in the early evening. Like many Americans, you might own a gas or charcoal grill and enjoy the taste of grilled …

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Green grilling: Alternatives to meaty barbecue

Posted

It is grilling season, you can smell it in the air if you walk around your neighborhood in the early evening.

Like many Americans, you might own a gas or charcoal grill and enjoy the taste of grilled steak, chicken and sausage. If you follow my column, you know I recommend reducing or eliminating meat and processed foods from your diet for health reasons, so hot dogs are definitely on the naughty list.

Are there alternatives? What should you do if you still want the taste of grilled food?

As a chef, I know the most flavorful way to cook a steak, burger or sausage is over high heat to get a charred crust on the outside while leaving the inside moist and juicy. Known as the Maillard reaction, this adds a flavorful, caramelized outer layer to the food. Unfortunately, this cooking method produces cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines, and there is double trouble when you consider the nitrates and nitrites used to make sausage.

Another problem with grilling is the development of harmful compounds known as Advanced Glycation End Products, or AGEs. AGEs exist in all meats and are more prevalent in meat that is cooked at high temperatures. Studies show that AGEs cause inflammation and are likely associated with the development of type-2 diabetes, kidney failure, premature aging and polycystic ovary syndrome.

The good news is that vegetables and fruits cooked at high temperature contain far fewer heterocyclic amines and AGEs, so I cook vegetables on my grill when I want that summer outdoor flavor. Cooking on a grill adds a flavor to vegetables and fruits that you can’t get with other cooking methods. The Internet provides a bounty of grilled fruit and vegetable recipes, and I suggest you do a quick search before your next outdoor party.

I enjoy grilled peaches, pineapple, eggplant, mushrooms and even lettuce. My favorite salad is a grilled Romaine lettuce salad. Simply take a head of Romaine lettuce, slice it in half lengthwise and brush the cut side with olive oil. Season it with a little salt, pepper and Italian herb blend and place the cut side on a hot grill for a minute or two until it starts to char. Remove it from the grill, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with diced tomatoes, olives and green onions for a wonderful summer salad.

Paul Webster is certified in Holistic Nutrition, Weight Management, Sports Nutrition and Training. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media. Questions and Comments can be set to Info@ServingHealthy.com

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