8 Tips for Safe Summertime Grilling

By Lisa Wingrove RD CSO | Manager, Campus and Community Initiatives

Summer is here, which means it’s grilling season! 

Grilling is an easy way to cook a tasty meal without heating up your home. More importantly, how we prepare and cook our meals can impact our health, a concern for cancer survivors or those trying to reduce the risk of disease. 

Man grilling healthy foods

Grilling can be part of a healthy eating pattern, where safe preparation and cooking are easy to do! Here are some tips for a healthy summer season:

  • Marinades are a combination of acid, oil, and flavorings that enrich and tenderize proteins before cooking. The acid helps break down tough proteins, and the oil works to moisten and reduce any charring. 
  • Marinating times vary depending on the kind, cut, and size of the meat. Denser red meats can marinate for 24 hours. Lighter meats, like chicken, can marinate between 2 hours and 24 hours. Seafood marinating times range from 15 to 60 minutes.
  • Discard the marinating liquid after use. If you want to baste during cooking, set some aside before soaking to reduce contamination risk.
  • Go low and slow! Cooking meat at high temperature changes the protein and increases the formation of cancer-causing compounds (i.e. polycyclic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines). Focus on low heat (two burners vs. four burners) and a marinade to decrease certain chemicals’ formation.
  • Consider your proteins. Red or processed meat intake has been linked to increased risk of colon cancer, and the American Institute of Cancer Research recommends alternating between chicken, fish, and plant-based proteins for your meals. Choose lean cuts to reduce the flame flare from the grill.
  • Grill veggies and fruit! Corn, pineapple, and peaches are delicious on the grill plus it’s a healthy and budget-friendly choice.
  • Use a thermometer to ensure your food is cooked through. As a reference, poultry needs to be cooked to 165°F, ground meats to 160°F, and all other meats 145°F.
  • Try this mouth-watering chicken marinade to get you started. 

Grilling kebabs