Grilling: Feed's All You Need Guide

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Grilling is a wonderful way to bring people together while enjoying delicious, flavorful foods. When most think of grilling, the first thing that comes to mind is meat. While grilling meat is popular, it isn’t the only way! Additionally, many people may want to grill but don’t know where to begin, but that shouldn’t be a discouraging factor! If that sounds like you, don’t worry. Today, we’re bringing you Pop’s Guide to Grilling to hopefully provide you with some inspiration and answer some of the questions you may have. Read on to learn more!

Before we begin, here are some exciting and fun facts about grilling to get you into the spirit!

  • According to Breo Box, grilling and barbequing are not the same. Grilling cooks food directly over heat, while barbequing, on the other hand, uses heat through the convection of hot air. (Talk about an interesting conversation starter at your next get-together!)
  • According to the Propane Guys, 75% of American adults own a grill or smoker. Additionally, 63% of the US population grills monthly, especially during holidays like the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Memorial Day weekend!
  • According to WebMD, grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook! Without the need for extra oils and breading, eaters can enjoy fewer calories and fats in their meals. It’s key to remember, though, that overeating charred meat (like that on many grilled steaks and burgers) can increase the chances of certain cancers developing due to carcinogens created during the grilling process. We don’t want to scare you away, so more on this later in the blog post.\

Types of Grills:

According to the Home Depot, several different types of grills are available for purchase, all with different capabilities that will help to make grilling easier, depending on your situation.

  • Charcoal grills: One of the most iconic styles of grills on the market, charcoal grills are a great option if you need portability, have limited space, or even just love a good charcoal flavor in your food! According to Home Depot, charcoal grills are the least expensive outdoor grills and can reach temperatures of 700 degrees Fahrenheit. These grills don’t have temperature controls but use dampers on the base and lid to control the heat.
  • Kamado grills: Lesser known than traditional charcoal grills, the kamado grill is an excellent option for those looking for even cooking for their meats and other dishes! Thanks to its design, heat can circulate more evenly throughout, using the same charcoal as its old-school counterpart. Additionally, while the kamado grill is an excellent cooker for your typical grilling, it is also a great option to use as an outdoor oven for pizzas and other baked goods!
  • Gas grills: Gas grills are the most popular style of grill on the market! They’re convenient to cook with, and they heat up quite quickly/the heat is easily controllable. Gas grills rely on propane as their primary source of heat, although converting them to use natural gas is possible as well. Gas grills also come with different cooking surfaces to work with as a part of their cart style (usually with a burner on the side). This can be perfect for cooking things like pancakes while grilling breakfast meats!
  • Smokers: This style of grill is perfect for those who enjoy the deep, smokey, rich flavor and have more time to spare to cook. Smokers cook at low temperatures for long periods, allowing the meats and other items to achieve the smokey flavor we know and love. This grill style can be heated through wood pellets, charcoal, or propane, depending on your purchase.
  • Electric grills: The last grill we wanted to mention is the electric grill! These grills are great for those living in apartments or condos. They heat up quickly, cook evenly, and are very easy to clean!

Healthy grilling: Why it’s important to consider

Remember how we mentioned that some types of grilling could put you more at risk for certain types of cancers? We wanted to touch on that a bit hopefully to help you understand what to look out for and how you can avoid being overly exposed to these toxins when enjoying your next grill out. 

There are two things to remember when grilling:

  1. Healthy preparation to avoid food-borne illnesses and
  2. Proper grilling without putting too much char on your foods.

First and foremost, proper food prep and handling techniques are key to ensuring you and your loved ones are safe from food-borne illnesses. We have a more in-depth blog post outlining food safety and storage practices you should follow to keep yourself safe and sickness-free, but we’ll touch on some key points here. When enjoying your grill-out, according to the FDA and USDA, you should always keep in mind the following:

Wash your hands

One of the critical steps to preventing contamination in the spread of food-borne illnesses is washing your hands, especially when working around raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Additionally, wash your hands after using the restroom and cooking and eating your meals!

Separate raw and cooked foods

Raw foods are a prominent proponent of spreading food-borne illness, so it is imperative to keep raw food such as meat, poultry, and seafood away from cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

Make sure to put items away in the refrigerator when not consuming

Foods, especially those with dairy (potato/macaroni salad, mayonnaise) and meat, need to be kept either at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or at or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe from harmful bacteria and other infectious agents. Food should also be stored within 2 hours to ensure freshness and safety.

Keep food cold when transporting

When taking food to your next grill-out, keep it cold to help minimize the growth of bacteria. Use an insulated cooler with ice or ice packs to ensure food stays at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, consume food quickly or store food in the refrigerator as soon as you reach your destination!

Keep everything clean

Keep plates, cups, utensils, and other items clean and separated during the food preparation. Ensure not to use the same dishes, cutting boards, or utensils/cutlery when preparing raw and cooked food to prevent cross-contamination.

Finally, you can take several steps to help keep your grill out healthy and prevent exposure to unhealthy carcinogens that can, in the long run, take a toll on your health. According to Columbia University, grilling exposes eaters to two different carcinogens that can cause DNA changes and increase the risk of cancer. 

Shorten the amount of time your food is on the grill

Avoid keeping meat on the grill for too long and in too high of heat to prevent the development of HCAs (or carcinogens that develop in meat when amino acids and muscle proteins are exposed to high heat). To help with the grilling process, partially cook food on the stove or in the oven and finish off on the grill or use smaller cuts of meat to help cut cooking time.

Don’t eat too much-barbequed meat too often

Like anything, grilled meats are fine to eat in moderation, but overeating can expose your body to high levels of these toxins. In turn, this can increase your chances of cancer exposure (and also can make it hard for your body to metabolize the food as well).

Try to avoid eating excessive charred foods

Have you ever been told not to eat burnt toast? There is truth to that; the same can be said for eating too many charred foods. Overeating char (even on vegetables) can increase your exposure to benzopyrene and other carcinogens that can affect your health, like cigarette smoke and air pollution.

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