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Grilling For Your Health

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 grillingcopyright 2009, Maria Liberati

Done right, grilling can be one of the healthiest ways to cook. While there has been some talk in recent years associating grilling with cancer causing agents, there are steps that can be taken to reduce that risk. The risk is actually associated with the formation of certain cancer causing substances on food exposed to high heat and flame, which can occur with other cooking methods as well.


The good news is that it has been found that the use of certain herbs, popular in the Mediterranean diet, such as basil, mint, thyme, rosemary, oregano and sage, dramatically reduced the formation of some of these substances. These herbs are also commonly found in marinades, which add flavor and reduce the formation of the free radicals that have been associated with an increased risk of cancer, when the meat is exposed to a high degree of heat.


Of course, selecting healthier foods from the get-go can make grilling an even healthier option for your family, and an enjoyable activity in the warmer months of the year. While experts are now recommending a reduction in the amount of red meat in the diet to no more than 18 ounces per week, leaner meats, such as chicken and fish, are also excellent cooked on the grill. You should trim any excess fat from your meat before cooking (regardless of your cooking method, really). Choose fresh meat over frozen whenever possible (one of the key principles of the Mediterranean diet, remember?), and try to avoid processed meats such as hot dogs or sausage.


We know that fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, those wonderful cholesterol-reducing agents. Eating three meals of fish per week can reduce blood clotting, boost your immune function and help reduce heart disease.


Vegetables are also an excellent choice for a cook-out. As always, fresh local produce is best and richest in nutrients. Try to slice your vegetables so that the most surface area will be in contact with the grill surface. This will cause vegetables to be the most flavorful.


Do you have any great grilling ideas to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 Hope to see you at one of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking School programs:
July 9th-Whole Foods, Jenkintown, Pa- 6:15 PM The Outdoor Kitchen and foods for a picnic, the beach and dining al fresco

July 11th-Chestnut Hill Book Festival, 2pm Magarity’s Showroom, Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill, Pa

July 16th, WHole Foods Market ,Annapolis Maryland, Tuscan Picnic Call store or email us at for more info

July 18th, WHole Foods Market, Fairfax, VA, A Tuscan Picnic and wine pairing. Call store to register or email :

July 31-August 2- Atalantic City Wine & Food Show, email for more info

Get your copy of the best sellilng book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at

Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene,



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