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Healthy BBQ: Gas vs Charcoal

  1. Summer is just around the corner, so it's almost time for cozy summer evenings in the garden. Inevitably, the BBQ is removed from the shed. Delicious meat, tasty sauces, wine with it, beer with it: A true pleasure.

  1. But more and more you hear that the barbecue is tasty, but far from healthy. In most cases, that's completely true: Meat burns quickly, creating harmful trans fats. In addition, the extensive use of all those sauces is not really healthy.

  1. But how should it be done? Is healthy BBQ possible anyway?

  1. In this article you will learn everything about healthy BBQ, but first a little more about the different types of fuel for the BBQ :)

  1. Charcoal creates a little bit more smoke than gas, although good charcoal once it burns well produces little smoke and is not readily absorbed into foods such as burgers, hot dogs or even steaks that are on the BBQ is coming.

  1. The smoke you see when you grill usually comes from the drops of fat from the food that hit the hot coals. Pieces of meat usually contain water, fat and proteins plus whatever you have added such as the sugar in the barbecue sauce. Then when the dripping liquids hit the coals they evaporate and some of it condenses on the meat and some penetrates the meat. Most gas BBQs or grills therefore cover the flames with metal plates, lava or ceramic rocks that absorb and dissipate the heat. When the droplets hit these radiant surfaces, it evaporates, producing smoke and steam, just like the charcoal.

  1. There is another taste difference. If you use firelighter cubes or any liquid to light the charcoal, an unpleasant petrochemical odor may develop during combustion, which can penetrate into the food. Really dirty! Therefore, use an odorless firelighter or an electric lighter for charcoal. I prefer the latter because it is faster, easier and does not cause smoke.

  1. But when it comes to grilling over a heat source, the fact is that when all things like the cooking temperature, for example, are equal, most people don't notice the difference in the taste between charcoal and gas grilled food. can taste. You will never notice any differences in taste, especially if you use strongly flavored spice rubs, marinades and sauces. You may think you can, but tastings where people were blindfolded have shown that you probably really can't. So if there is little difference in taste, the choice comes down to functionality.

The pros and cons of charcoal

  1. Charcoal lovers are firm in their opinion and it even borders on snobbery at times. They won't even consider buying a gas grill. They claim it's the taste, but I think a lot of it is the thrill of playing with fire and the ritual.

  1. The real reason to buy a charcoal grill or a charcoal BBQ is that the charcoal can get hotter than the standard BBQ's and grilling on gas and heat is of course needed to get the steaks and lamb nicely brown on the outside and red or pink on the inside. A charcoal BBQ can get warmer than 200 ° C. If you use a lot of coals or if the rack is placed just above the coals, it can reach 300Â ° C itself. Whenever I can find top quality lamb or beef I use rocks to lower my Weber's charcoal grate even lower and the result looks and tastes just as good as anything you can order from Morton's (check out the image at the top of this page). My favorite charcoal grills and BBQ's have a crank to raise and lower the charcoal bed.

  1. The downside: charcoal is dirty to work with; it can be difficult to light, it takes about 15 minutes longer to get up to temperature, there may be flare-ups that can burn the food and pose a health risk, it is difficult to tell what temperature you are cooking at, the temperature cannot be reduced quickly and during long cooking it loses its heat slowly and you have to add more charcoal. Charcoal grills rarely have a rotisserie and, after you are done, there is a lot of ash to clear up.

  1. In short, cooking on charcoal can produce excellent results if you only know how to do it. The high heat is perfect for red meat and knowing how to use it will reward you generously. The Grasshopper in particular has many possibilities once you have discovered what you can do with it.

The pros and cons of gas

  1. Grilling and gas BBQs sell much better than charcoal BBQs and it's easy to see why. They offer convenience and you have more control. These two words alone should be enough.

  1. They are easy to light, heat up in 10-15 minutes, maintain temperatures steadily, are easy to clean and can be adjusted. If it's a weekday and you have to be ready in an hour, you can. Low to medium price gas grills can usually reach a temperature of 400 ° C. More expensive grills can get even warmer.

  1. Most gas grills and BBQs use metal plates, lava rocks and ceramics to give off heat, so there is no open fire, no flames and cleaning is much easier because the drops of fat have usually already evaporated. There is little or no ash, so it is easier to clean, but it does create carbon and grease deposits that need to be scraped off or pressurized every few months.

  1. The biggest problem with gas grilling is that only the models, which get warm enough at the top, can get a steak crispy on the outside without overpowering the inside. to cook. If you want to cook your steaks just right, grills that heat up well and adjust are perfect for you. But if you want your meat crispy on the outside and raw or medium rare on the inside, most simple gas grills can't do that.

  1. Can't wait to start grilling? Then use these good tips to grill healthy all summer:

Increase the temperature!

  1. Heat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the correct temperature (and to kill bacteria). A properly heated grill will sear food instantly, keep the inside moist and help prevent sticking. Although (contrary to popular belief) the juices are not 'trapped', it improves flavors through caramelization.

Additive-free charcoal

  1. If you choose to grill on charcoal anyway, we recommend that you use charcoal without additives, so ordinary charred wood. Conventional briquettes can contain wood scraps and sawdust as well as coal dust, sodium nitrate, borax and additives such as paraffin or a lighter fluid. Regarding the lighting fluid, we recommend that you avoid this completely. Lighting fluid can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, leave an unpleasant residue on food and pose a serious hazard if used incorrectly.

Brush your BBQ clean

  1. It's much easier to remove debris while the grill is still hot, so after preheating, use a wire brush on your grill grate to remove charred dirt from previous meals. Scrape the grid again immediately after use.

Use some oil

  1. Even on a clean grill, lean food can stick when placed directly on the wire rack. Reduce sticking by oiling your hot grill rack with a vegetable oil. To do this, use a soaked paper towel and hold it with pliers. Rub it over the rack and make sure everything is coated. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)

Is it done?

  1. The best way to know if your chicken or fish is fully cooked is to check the internal temperature with a thermometer.

The hand test

  1. To measure the temperature of a grill without a thermometer, place your open palm about 4 inches above the grill grate; the fire is very hot if you have to pull your hand away within 2 seconds, on average if you have to pull your hand away within 5 seconds and the temperature is low if you only have to pull your hand away within 10 seconds.

Check the flames

  1. Flashes occur when fat drips onto the heat source and then catches fire. This allows carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) to form and build up on your food. Meat hit by flames also tastes burnt, and flames can over brown the outside of the food before the inside is thoroughly cooked. To reduce flare-ups, you can use lean cuts of meat, cut away the excess fat, and remove the skin from poultry. And keep a spray bottle of water next to your grill to quickly put out unexpected flames.

Beware of burnt food

  1. A little crunch is inevitable (and it tastes good, by the way), but burnt meat contains more carcinogenic compounds. Do not let the coals get super hot or put fatty meat directly on the grill. The blackened parts of the meat can also contain carcinogens, so remove any charred or burnt parts of the food before eating it.

Reduce bacteria in burgers

  1. To kill the common E.coli bacteria, it is recommended to heat ground beef to 160 ° C. If you prefer to eat your burger a little more raw, you can grind up your own beef and prepare it immediately. If you use store-bought meat, flip your burgers often: One study showed that you need to flip burgers every 30 seconds to kill nasty bacteria. Another study found that even when two burgers both reached 160Â ° C, the ones turned more often contained only one-fifth of the E.coli of the other burgers.

Add alcohol

  1. Don't forget the beer and wine for your next barbecue ... at least for your marinade. We know that red wine is full of antioxidants and this can also manifest in your marinades.

  1. Marinating the beef in red wine for six hours before grilling, reduced the amount of carcinogenic substances by 40%. These results come from a study by the University of Porto in Portugal.

  1. The same study also showed similar positive effects using beer, and participants gave the beer marinated beef the highest quality marks.

Meat, chicken and fish of the best quality

  1. Look for sustainable, grass-fed beef and use free-range chicken. Buy wild fish or organically farmed fish, and salmon, in particular, is particularly healthy as it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Avoid swordfish and tuna, which have higher mercury concentrations.

  1. Animals are healthiest when raised in their natural environment and healthy meat comes from healthy animals. Eating sustainably raised animals also means avoiding the negative effects of excess hormones and antibiotics being fed to factory-raised animals.

Choose good chicken or fish

  1. Fish, chicken and lean skinless poultry are all healthier choices. The good fats in fish such as salmon and trout even have health benefits. And if you grill with skill, your diners won't even miss out on the red meat, which usually has more saturated fat. Wrap marinated fish fillets in foil, make colorful chicken kebabs, or make more savory turkey burgers by mixing chopped portobello mushrooms and onions through your burgers. If you choose meat or pork, use the “loin” or the lean cuts.

Give your meat more flavor with a marinade

  1. Marinating or rubbing spices into poultry, fish and meat can add great flavor with the added bonus of using less salt. All you need is about 1 cup of marinade for every pound of meat you want to flavor. Make a simple marinade with your favorite spices (such as allspice, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, paprika or rosemary) and of course black pepper.

Add color â € “lots of color!

  1. Almost any of your favorite colorful fruits and vegetables can be grilled alone or on a skewer with kebabs, giving them a delicious flavor that will convince even the most devoted carnivore. The trick is to cut them into pieces, which will cook quickly and evenly. Then, to avoid sticking, brush it with a healthy oil or use a grill basket to keep them out of the line of fire. Some of my favorites are asparagus, avocado, bell pepper, corn, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, squash and zucchini.

Marinate before grilling

  1. Marinades not only make grilled food tastier, they can also make it safer. A chemist found that marinating chicken in a simple blend of olive oil, cider vinegar, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and brown sugar reduced carcinogens in the final product by more than 90%. Researchers aren't sure why, but they suspect that marinating unravels the chemical precursors of carcinogens.

Opt for healthier side dishes.

  1. Replace traditional store-bought barbecue side dishes such as baked beans, coleslaw, macaroni salad and potato salad - which can be high in saturated fat, sodium and added sugars - with healthier homemade versions. Or do something different and serve a colorful bean salad, fruit salad or a green salad.

Grill fruit for dessert.

  1. The natural sugars caramelize in the high heat, making them extra sweet and flavor. Try putting sliced ​​apple, pear or pineapple or halved bananas, figs, nectarines, peaches or plums on the grill.

Where there is smoke, there is a risk of cancer

  1. Whether on wood, charcoal, or gas, grilling meat, poultry, or fish exposes the food - and whoever eats it - to two separate carcinogens or carcinogens. The first are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); the second, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that develop in meat, poultry and fish cooked over high heat. It can be hard for fans of charred steaks, burgers, and chicken to stop doing this, but it really is a lot healthier. (You have to cook the meat completely to make sure you get rid of pathogenic bacteria like E. coli.) Some people say that burnt meat also causes cancer.

Make your burgers healthy

  1. Start with ground beef that is at least 90 percent lean. (Some people have the illusion that flavor is in the fat, but it's the lean part of the meat that tastes the most.) You can boost your burger by mixing in the following: sautéed onions or mushrooms, a little Worcestershire sauce, grated cheddar or another aged cheese, sundried tomatoes, spinach, feta or olives. Add extra fiber by serving your burgers on a whole grain or a multigrain bun.

Add more color to your kebab

  1. Research shows that many vitamins and minerals in combination with other foods can provide a maximum boost of nutrients such as iron and vitamin C. So thread as many healthy vegetables or fruits as possible between the meat or chicken: make your own combinations of diced chicken breast, monkfish, shrimp, salmon, lean beef, tofu or tempeh and alternate with cherry tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, eggplant , cubes of pineapple, broccoli, mushrooms, plums and peaches. Brush the skewers with a little olive oil or a marinade and grill them on the BBQ until the meat is cooked and soft and the vegetables are roasted and nicely browned around the edges. Note: if you are using wooden skewers, soak them in some water for 30 minutes first to avoid burning the ends during grilling.

Create custom portions

  1. Encourage guests to eat less meat by making smaller portions: try serving smaller burgers, choose fillet mignon-sized steaks and cut sausages lengthwise before grilling them; also make your kebab from smaller cubes of meat. End your meal with more fresh fruits and vegetables such as corn on the cob, green salads or berries.

Make your hot dog healthier

  1. Avoid layers of chili and cheese on your hot dogs, which double the calorie and saturated fat count. Instead, try making something fresh and flavorful: for example, a Vietnamese-inspired sauce of diced cucumber, grated carrot, lime, and chili-garlic sauce. Or try sauerkraut or coleslaw. (Watch the serving sizes as sauerkraut can be high in sodium.) Re-use whole grain or multigrain buns.

Keep the side dishes as simple as possible

  1. When it comes to side dishes, go for vegetables. Make salads from leafy green vegetables such as spinach, arugula or watercress and cook kale or spinach with garlic and serve warm if desired. Also consider adding herbs such as basil or parsley, which contain disease-fighting antioxidants; in fact, all of these vegetables can counter some of the harmful effects of the other foods on a barbecue.

  1. 100% healthy BBQ is virtually impossible, but if you follow the above tips you will have done almost everything to make it as healthy as possible. In addition, you offer your guests an original, healthy BBQ with the above tips, which will certainly be appreciated!





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