Nothing embodies summer more than a relaxing afternoon with friends grillin' and chillin' on the deck. Check out these tips for delicious and healthy grilling.
First off, start with a clean grill. "Scrape off built-up carcinogens that cling to the grates both before and after grilling", says Chef Instructor Elliot Prag of the National Gourmet Institute. Research has shown that cooking meat directly over high flames could be adding harmful, cancer-causing carcinogens to your food. #RedMeat is the most carcinogenic food. Marinating meat not only keeps the meat juicy but it also keeps the meat from over-charring", says Chef Prag. He recommends red wine, lemon, or vinegar-based marinades. Add spices like chili flakes, sage, thyme, garlic, and rosemary - all of which help lower carcinogen risks naturally. The less time the meat is on the grill, the less risk of carcinogens. Another option is to pre-cook in the oven or on the stove before frilling. Flare-ups on the grill are a big source of carcinogens. "Use leaner meats that drip less fat or trim the fat off meat before grilling and keep the heat low", advises Chef Prag. Finally, don't overlook the meat. Purchase a meat thermometer to take the guesswork out.
JUICY GRILLED CHEESEBURGERS
Burgers don't have to be fatty. These quarter-pounders are lightened up with a 90-percent lean beef and a mere half-ounce of cheddar, and they're served on wholesome whole wheat English muffins.
Canola oil or nonstick grilling #cooking spray
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons yellow #mustard
4 whole-wheat English muffins
1 medium ripe tomato, cored and cut into 4 thick slices
1 pound lean ground #beef
2 ounces 50-percent reduced-fat sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1/2 cup)
Pickles, for serving, optional
Heat a grill to medium-high direct heat and lightly oil the grates using a paper towel soaked in canola oil or nonstick grilling cooking spray.
Spread a 16-inch-long piece of nonstick aluminum foil on a cutting board (or mist a piece of regular aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray). Top with the onions, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon water. Bring two sides of the foil together, fold over twice to create a seal and then seal the remaining two ends. Put on the grill and cook for 12 minutes, flipping once. The onions should be tender with only a bit of charring. Carefully open the top of the foil to let all the steam out and continue to cook the onions, tossing, until browned and lightly charred, 3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.
While the onions cook, mix the ketchup and mustard together in a small bowl. Season with pepper and set aside.
Lightly toast the English muffins on the grill and place on top and bottom on each of the 4 plates. Spread some of the #ketchup sauce on the bottom half of each muffin and top with a slice of tomato.
Divide the meat flesh into 4 patties about 4 inches in diameter and just under 1/2 inch thick. Sprinkle with a total of 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the burgers on the grill. Cook until the edges of the burgers are browning, 3 to 5 minutes, and then flip. Brush the burgers with the remaining ketchup sauce and evenly top with the shredded cheese. Cover the #burgers with the grill lid or a large heatproof bowl and continue to cook until the cheese has melted and the burgers are still a bit pink on the inside, about 3 minutes more.
Put one burger on top of the assembled muffin bottom and top with some of the grilled onions and the top of the muffins. Serve with pickles if desired.
COCKTAILS ON THE DECK
Sipping a refreshing cocktail while the chef is grilling is a summer favorite that can pack on a lot of empty calories. A frozen margarita has around 800 calories and 50 grams of sugar! Kick back and enjoy a healthier cocktail with these tips courtesy of Robin Miller, host of Quick Fix Meals on the Food Network.
Cut calories in half (and add nutrients) by using coconut water instead of fruit juice.
Use #watermelon puree to naturally sweeten drinks (leave out the sugar and simple syrup).
Replace half the amount of fruit juice with flavored seltzer water.
Use orange wedges instead of orange juice or replace the #orange juice with flavored, no-calorie water.
Opt for sake, shochu, or soju, Asian sprits with fewer calories than vodka or gin.
Replace tonic water with club soda or seltzer water.