With these warmer days becoming more consistent, I actually have hope that spring has arrived! I'm eager to continue with getting the garden planted, filling my flower pots and boxes, and getting the deck cleaned up and ready to enjoy. With graduation festivities and Memorial Day right around the corner, I'm fairly certain I am not alone in my flurry of preparations.
As many of us look toward summer, we will certainly fire up the grill to prepare our favorite foods. New research tells us that using a marinade on meat can help make it safer by protecting the meat from cancerous compounds formed during grilling.
Dr. J. Scott Smith, Kansas State University professor in food chemistry, has found that adding spices to burgers and steaks significantly reduces cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Dr. Smith's research using a marinade containing rosemary and thyme reduced HCA levels by 87 percent in grilled round steaks, and adding herbs and spices directly to ground beef dramatically reduces HCA formation risk.
Cancer researchers also offer these suggestions to help lower your risk from grilled foods:
¢ When grilling meat, keep portions small so they need less time on the grill.
¢ Try to avoid letting juices drip into flames or coals by using a spatula to turn them rather than piercing with a fork.
¢ Pre-cook foods in the oven or microwave and finishing cooking on the grill for flavor.
Grilling isn't just for meat either. Grilled vegetables with fresh or dried herbs have a wonderful flavor, texture and aroma. Place marinated vegetables on skewers, a grilling tray or simply wrap in foil. Grilled fruit releases the natural sugars and makes a great dessert. Try these recipes out with your next cookout - they might just become family favorites.
Savory Grilled Herb Burgers
1 lb. ground sirloin
3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1â2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
sliced tomatoes, lettuce, sliced red onions, mustard, etc.
Directions: Form ground sirloin into 4 patties. In a shallow container, mix the Worcestershire sauce, garlic, seasoning salt, black pepper, rosemary and thyme. Coat each burger with marinade by placing the burger into the bowl, lightly pressing it down and then turning it over to repeat on the other side. Place burgers on a plate and let marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Grill or broil to an internal temperature of 160Â° F. Serve on a whole wheat hamburger bun with garnishes and condiments.
Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. lemon peel
2 tsp. fresh, chopped oregano
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium zucchini, sliced
1 small onion, sliced & separated into rings
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 tbsp. sliced black olives
Directions: Combine garlic, lemon peel, oregano and olive oil, add zucchini, onion, bell pepper and olives. Toss to coat. Preheat grill pan on grill, add vegetables and cook 7-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. You can also wrap vegetables in foil and place on grill, turning foil-pack once during cooking.
Assemble kebabs with:
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, quartered lengthwise, and cut into 16 wedges, about 1" thick
1 slightly under-ripe banana, sliced into 1" chunks
Directions: Preheat the grill (or a stovetop grill pan) to medium. Assemble each kebab with 2 wedges of pineapple and a chunk of banana, starting and ending with pineapple. (Pineapple wedges should 'hug' the banana and resemble a bow.) Coat grill with nonstick cooking spray, then grill kebabs 5-7 minutes, turning once. Can brush with honey and sprinkle fresh chopped mint before serving.