Don’t Get Grilled by the Grill
The heart of grilling season has arrived giving new flavor, texture and color to some of your favorite meats and vegetables. 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 this Summer. 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, and 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*, 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, trim excess fat to prevent dripping which causes the flames and resulting smoke.
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 which are naturally fat free and therefore don’t drip and they lack the protein found in meats, poultry and fish so are immune to harmful HCAs. Use a vegetable grill basket to prevent them from falling through the grate.
6) Remember, when in doubt, grill over lower temperatures and avoid flame flare-ups as much as possible.
Grilled Vegetables with Fresh Rosemary
2 yellow summer squash, washed, dried, ends trimmed, cut into planks
2 zucchini squash, washed, dried, ends trimmed, cut into planks
1 large red onion, ends trimmed cut into 8 chunks
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into 2 to 3-inch “cubes”
2 orange bell peppers, seeded and cut into 2 to 3-inch “cubes”
10 cremini mushrooms, brushed and stems trimmed (optional)
5 to 6 branches fresh rosemary, left whole, plus more for garnish
Olive oil, as needed
Sea salt, as needed
Fresh ground black pepper, as needed
Cedar plank (optional)
NOTE: to cut planks, place vegetable on cutting board laying vertically. Using your chef’s knife, thinly slice vegetable from top to bottom creating a “plank”. You may also use a mandolin but be careful not to slice too thinly. You want the vegetable to sustain the grill. ** Bell pepper “cubes” do not have to be perfectly cubed. Pay more attention to even sizing than perfect “cubes”.
Heat the grill over medium heat.
In large mixing bowl, combine all vegetables and rosemary branches and toss to distribute. Add about ¼ cup of olive oil to the vegetable mixture, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and toss again to coat. Place prepared vegetables directly on pre-heated grill or in grill basket being careful not to overcrowd. Grill until vegetables have nice grill marks and color, turning once or twice during grilling process. Grill about 5 minutes total or as you prefer. Transfer to serving platter, garnish with additional rosemary, if desired, and enjoy.
You may grill on a cedar plank, if you wish. If so, soak cedar plank in water at least 1 hour before use. Place vegetables on cedar plank and cook until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve on cedar plank garnishing with additional fresh rosemary, if desired.
Copyright Susan Irby theBikini Chef™ 2011 ~ This article and recipe was originally featured in Max Muscle magazine July 2011
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