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Healthy Cooking on the BBQ

The barbeque is not just for cooking meat any more. It is a great tool for preparing complete, low fat meals rich in nutrients and flavor. By using our tips on portion sizes as well as flavor-filled marinades and rubs, you will find it easy to prepare meals that will please your whole family and dazzle your dinner guests.

Beef/Pork : As a general rule, look for the words "round" or "loin," in the name of the cut. For ground beef choose 90 percent lean. Beef steaks must be cooked to at least medium-rare doneness (145 degrees F). Ground beef and pork must be cooked to at least medium doneness (160 degrees F).

Poultry : Choose poultry breast when possible. Remove skin from legs, thighs and wings. Cook ground turkey and chicken to 165 degrees F, breasts to 170 degrees F and legs, thighs and wings to 180 degrees F.

Fish : Choose any type that you prefer. Fish is done when it flakes easily.

Vegetables : Brush with olive or canola oil and grill on medium heat. You may also marinade for a couple of hours before grilling to enhance their flavor. Try sweet peppers, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini or any other favorite vegetable. A simple marinade consists of olive oil, garlic, salt pepper and oregano or thyme.

Fruit : Try fresh pineapple, peaches, apricots, mangoes or any other fruit as desired. Place prepared chunks directly on the hot grill and grill 2-3 minutes or until tender.

Grilling Tips

  • Temperature matters. Grilling at the right temperature ensures even cooking. If the temperature is too high, meat can char and become overcooked on the outside before the interior reaches the appropriate doneness.
  • Avoid flare-ups. Trim excess fat from meats to avoid flare-ups while grilling.
  • Turn properly. Use long-handled tongs for turning meats; spatulas for burgers. A fork will pierce the meat causing loss of flavorful juices. Wash your tongs after handling raw meat, or use a separate set for the raw and cooked portions.
  • Use a thermometer. The best way to determine doneness of meat is to use an instant-read thermometer. It registers in seconds, but is not heat-resistant so it cannot be left in food while it cooks. Insert thermometer horizontally into the center of meat and burgers to check the internal temperature.
  • Marinating "musts." Always marinate in the refrigerator. If a marinade has been in contact with uncooked meat, it must be brought to a full rolling boil before it can be eaten as a sauce. (It is easier and more safe to make extra marinade beforehand and set some aside for use as a sauce.) Less tender steaks should marinate for at least 6 hours but no more than 24 hours. Do not marinate in metal containers.
  • Practice food safety. Never take meat off the grill and return it to the same platter that held raw meat unless the platter has been washed in hot soapy water.
  • Remove all charred or burnt portions before eating.

For more ideas and recipes for healthy grilling, visit the following web sites:

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