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June 3, 2014

Get Grilling for Good Health!

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

By Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

For many people, Memorial Day weekend marks the start of the grilling season, while others cook outside all year long.  No matter how often you fire up the grill, going beyond the usual hamburgers and hot dogs adds appeal to your meals. Varying what you eat, and how you grill it, supports good health, too.

"Veg" Out

Experts recommend piling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.  It's easier to include the vegetables you need with delicious side dishes like these grilled romaine hearts with creamy buttermilk dressing. 

Grilled Romaine Lettuce
Makes 4 servings

¼ cup Hood® Fat Free Buttermilk 
6 tablespoons  Hood® Sour Cream
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper to taste
2 large heads romaine lettuce, with outer leaves removed
2 tablespoons olive oil

In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Whisk to combine well. Chop off the top 2 inches of each head of lettuce, leaving the root end intact. Brush the lettuce on all sides with the olive oil. Grill on medium-high, direct heat until charred but crisp on all sides, turning every minute or two until done, for about 10 minutes. 

Reduce Red and Processed Meats

What you grill is as important as how you grill it. Cooking animal foods (but not plant foods) with high heat forms compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCA), which may damage the DNA in your cells, and contribute to cancer .  

When the fat from meat hits hot coals, it creates smoke that contains another carcinogen called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends a maximum of 18 ounces of red meat, such as beef, pork, and lamb, a week. Red meat and processed meats, including hot dogs, sausages, and kielbasa, are linked to a higher risk for colon cancer.  

These simple steps curb consumption of HCA and PAH: 

• Choose seafood and white meat, such as chicken, more often than red and processed meats.

• Marinate meat, chicken, and fish. Marinating reduces HCAs, but not just any marinade will do; store-bought barbeque sauces (with added sugars) may increase HCA formation.  Our Marinated Grilled Chicken is perfect for easy weeknight dinners or weekend barbeques. 

• Limit cooking time. Cook meat, chicken, and seafood in the microwave for a minute or so before grilling. When grilling, use a meat thermometer to determine doneness. Trim animal foods of charred areas. 

End on a Sweet Note

Grilled fruit is a delicious and nutritious way to end a meal.  Grilled pineapple is an easy and elegant treat that's sure to impress. Serve with a scoop of Hood® Honey Vanilla Greek Frozen Yogurt for bone-building protein and calcium. 

Grilled Pineapple
Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ripe fresh pineapple, trimmed and cut into ½-inch round slices

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, oil, lime juice, and cinnamon. Mix well. Heat the grill. Lightly coat a clean grill rack with cooking spray.  Brush the pineapple on one side with the brown sugar mixture. Grill pineapple, turning once and basting the remaining side with the brown sugar marinade. Cook until fork-tender, about 8 to 10 minutes total.

 

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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