Safe and Healthy Grilling
You may have heard that grilling is unhealthy -- and, in fact, eating charred meat can increase your risk of cancer. Why? A cancer-causing compound called heterocyclic amine forms when high temperatures break down an amino acid (creatine) inside meat. "The greater the charring, the higher the risk of stomach and colon cancers," says Keecha Harris, an adjunct professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Since kids should always eat well-done meat, make grilling safer all-around with these moves:
Marinate. Lemon juice, fruit, honey, or olive oil can protect grilled meat from cancer-causing buildup, says Harris. And lightly basting the meat just before it's done can also reduce charring.
Go lean. When fat drips onto the coals, flare-ups can char what you're cooking. So choose leaner cuts and remove the skin from chicken or fish before you put it on the grill.
Be gentle. Use tongs or a spatula to flip your steak; if you pierce the meat with a fork, juices run out, hit the coals, and you can have a flare-up.
Cut it up. Smaller pieces of meat cook faster, making it less likely they'll burn.
Good news: Fruits and veggies don't produce the same carcinogens as meat. And the grilled look and smoky flavor might just entice your kids to try 'em (be sure to clean the grill first).