5 Mistakes Everyone Makes During Summer Grillin'
By: Steve Powers
Today, we’ll go over some tips on how to grill your food into moist deliciousness, without sacrificing your diet or overall health.
Marinating your meat is a great way to add flavor, but also has a lot of hidden calories when not done properly! Many marinades call for using oils, which is the most calorie dense food you can consume. It is very easy to exceed your allotted daily calories, so use oils VERY sparingly if you do not plan on counting those calories. Some marinades that do not break the “bank”, as it were, include any form of:
- Lemon/lime juice
- Red pepper flakes
- Cayenne pepper
- Any green herb you may have lying around
Simply dress your meats in the morning, then cook ‘em up later in the evening to ensure the flavor has infused properly into the meat!
#4 Beware of cheap meat!
We’ve all seen the family pack of ground meat at the store, but steer clear of these deals! These packages tend to be 80/20 (80% protein, 20% fat), which is a very low quality type of meat. Burgers made with this meat will shrink into hockey pucks once the fat is rendered out by the cooking process, meaning you will need to oversize the original uncooked burger. Less bang for your buck than you had hoped, right?
Another reason this meat is poor for your health, is the type of fat it contains. This meat was probably raised on corn, and other fattening grains, that cows would not naturally consume in large portions in the wild. This skews their fats to be almost entirely Omega 6/9 fats. The average Western diet consists of approximately 16:1 omega 6:3 fats. A very poor ratio for humans! To skew back towards the recommended 4:1 ratio, purchase grass-fed meats when possible. Although a bit costlier, it will greatly improve your overall health in the long run (70% decreased mortality rate to be exact!). Better to spend the money now and be healthy than spend it on a hospital in the future!
#3 Cook to temperature!
Playing the guessing game with your meat’s “doneness” is a dangerous game. Uncooked meat can make you and your family violently, and potentially fatally, ill. Salmonella is a big risk with chicken, and even ground up meat. Invest in a quality digital meat thermometer, and be aware of the recommended cooking temperatures outlined by the FDA.
A thermometer will also help you achieve that perfect steak. No more using the pad of your hand to determine the perfect medium rare!
#2 Beware of burning!
This tip has two approaches. The first is to ensure that your meat does not burn and blacken. Research has shown that burnt meat breaks down into carcinogens, and can be very harmful to your body.
A not so obvious approach is to properly clean your grill after every use. Food residue can linger during the “cool down”, and can also be burnt even more during your next “warm up” cycle of the grill. Invest in proper scraping tools, and regularly clean with a household solvent to ensure only the cleanest food reaches your family!
Like any good skill, becoming adept takes practice, and lots of it. Practicing with your grill is just as important as preparing the meat itself. You’ll learn where the hot/cold spots are, how much fuel (charcoal/propane) you need to keep the grill at temperature, how long it needs to pre-heat, etc.
Be patient, follow these steps, and you’ll have great meat every time!
#Bonus: Size matters!
Trying to cook a thick chicken breast is a futile attempt at creating a perfect meal. Thick pieces of chicken will not reach the proper interior temperature before the exterior burns and turns into a dried leather hide. Take the time to butterfly larger chicken breasts in half to ensure a quick, but thorough cooking!
Steaks can be left thick if you are looking for a rare to medium cook, but the temperature must be lower than normal to ensure you do not burn the exterior.
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