As the temperature heats up this summer, people turn to outdoor grilling for their dinner solutions. Below are a few grilling tips to prevent food contamination and create healthy summer dishes.
Preheat the grill until very hot
Bits from the last grilling remain on the grates. Preheat the grill on high to burn off particles. Hot grates also produce an appetizer sear on food and reduce sticking food.
Thoroughly wipe down grill
Once the days-old leftovers are burned, it is important to wipe the grates clean. Burnt food – also known as char – is a carcinogen. Carcinogens are capable of causing cancer. The good news is that not all char are created equal. Char from vegetables and fruit do not contain carcinogens – only meat. No need to throw away those crispy vegetables!
Forget the Foil
Studies suggest heating foil that hot breaks down the aluminum, contaminating the food. To prevent food from sticking, soak a paper towel with oil and use tongs to grease the grates. To avoid vegetables falling between the grates, cut them lengthwise or skewer them onto wooden sticks. Soaking the skewers in water for at least 20 minutes reduces burning.
Keep it Covered
Flies are known to carry deadly diseases that can be transmitted to exposed food. Store food until ready to cook. Meats should be kept in the refrigerator, as harmful bacteria develop quickly in warm environments.
Monitor the Sugar
From BBQ sauces to fresh summer fruit, it is easy to exceed healthy levels of sugar. To cut down on sugar intake, use homemade vinegar, oil, and herb marinades. Go heavy on grilled vegetables and light on fruit.
Minimize the Char
To avoid flare-ups, do not place meat directly over flames. After preheating the grill, place meat in indirect heat, turn heat down to medium-low (if gas), and close lid to help cook faster.
Stick to Metal
Hot grills easily melt plastic. Eliminate the risk of plastic in food by using metal tongs and spatulas.
Double the Utensils
Did that set of tongs touch raw meat? Keep two on hand: use one to place meat on grill and flip, and remove fully cooked pieces of meat with the other.
Beer may quench thirst, but summer heat – intensified from grilling – requires plenty of water on hand.
Grilled Sun-Dried Tomato Zucchini Boats Recipe
- 4 small zucchinis
- 8 Tbs (1/2 cup) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, diced
- handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced (optional)
- salt and pepper
Preheat grill on high.
Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. With the tip of a spoon, scoop out center seeds and discard. Brush oil from sun-dried tomatoes onto cut side of each half. Place on grill cut-side-down, reduce heat to medium, and close lid.
When zucchini begins to soften and browns after a few minutes, flip halves over with tongs. Spoon sun-dried tomatoes and oil equally into zucchini boats. Close lid and cook several more minutes until thoroughly warmed and softened. When done, remove zucchini and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper.