- Category: Eat Right Featured Articles
by Angela Aladjem RD, LD
Year round, people have excuses as to why they do not feel like cooking, and summertime is no exception. The popular rebuttal is that cooking requires heating up the stove, and that, in turn, heats up the house. To that, cooking on the grill offers a wonderful, healthy alternative. Food can be marinated by day in the refrigerator, and thrown on the grill soon before dinnertime. Salads are easy enough to put together, for a quick, cool meal. But before you dive in, there are a few things to keep in mind for safety and to ensure great taste!
-As tempting as it may be to thaw meats in your sink while you are working, it is not safe. Food that falls to a certain temperature has the ability to grow bacteria. Then, if the meat isn’t cooked correctly, there is a possibility for foodborne illness. It is best to thaw the meat overnight, in the refrigerator. You can also thaw in the microwave, follow your microwave for times.
-While thawing and preparing food, it is best to keep meat, vegetables, and starches separate. The tray you bring the meat to the grill on should be properly cleaned with hot soap and water before replacing the cooked item. Just like during thawing, there may be some bacteria on the meat which can travel onto your other food items. Always properly wash your hands, utensils, and plates.
-Temp for “doneness.” Another common error is to simply cut a small slit in the center of meat to gauge if it is finished or not. For the same reasons as above, it is important to make sure meat is cooked to the proper temp before removing from the grill: 145 for medium rare burgers or steaks, 160 for other beef, pork, veal, or lamb, turkey and chicken should be cooked to 165, and 145 for seafood.
-For great taste, marinade cuts of veggies or meat in the refrigerator for 20 minutes up to a day before cooking. This can help moisten and flavor the food. Be careful with marinades that contain a lot of acid or salt because that could dry out the food.
-Cook food over a medium temperature; this will help ensure even cooking and prevent the outside from charring or burning before the inside is done.
-Use tongs or a spatula to rotate items on the grill as poking it with a fork can cause a loss of juice, which will result in a loss of flavor.
Enjoy the summer and your time outside with friends and family! In health, Angela
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