If you're planning to grill this summer, beware of burning your meat. The American Cancer Society reports that cooking meat at high temperatures can create chemicals that may increase your cancer risk.
A study from the University of Minnesota linked the regular consumption of charred, well-done meat with a 60 percent increase in risk of pancreatic cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, high temperature cooking of meat creates the chemicals heterocylic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These chemicals cause changes in DNA that increase the risk of cancer. Animal studies have also demonstrated this link.
HCAs are created when amino acids and other substances in meat are burned. PAHs are formed when the meat's fat and juices drip onto the fire and cause flames, and the PAHs in these flames get on the meat. PAHs are also found in other charred foods, cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes.
To grill safely this summer, the American Cancer Society suggests these four tips for backyard barbecues.
- Choose lean cuts of meat to reduce fat drippings that cause smoke and potential carcinogens.
- Line your grill with foil and poke small holes in it. This allows the fat to drip off but keeps the smoke away from the meat.
- Remove charred parts of meat. Anything black or burnt will have lots of HCAs.
- Try grilling fruits and vegetables.
Discover these 20 new foods you can grill
If you want to try grilling something other than a burger or a steak, read on to discover 20 fun and unusual foods that are great grilled.
Amp up the flavor and texture of your meatballs by tossing them on the grill. This recipe works great for meatball subs or spaghetti.
Get the recipe: Grilled Meatballs
Grilling green beans gives them a delicious char that's superb with the lentils, pancetta and baked tomatoes in this salad.
Get the recipe: Grilled Green Bean Salad with Lentil Vinaigrette
Grill super-moist pound cake until it is crisp and toasty, and then top it with warm, tender grilled peaches and whipped cream for a delicious summer treat. Experiment with other sweets like donuts.
Get the recipe: Grilled Lemon Pound Cake with Peaches and Cream
Skip the mushy stuff and serve your cornmeal crisp. Try grilled polenta slices on top of sweet shrimp tossed with a spicy tomato and escarole sauce for a supper with panache.
Get the recipe: Grilled Polenta with Shrimp & Escarole
Grilling watermelon gives it a unique flavor that some say tastes savory. Try it with homemade Greek yogurt for a refreshing summer treat.
Get the recipe: Grilled Watermelon with Yogurt
For a chewy, slightly charred crust, try grilling your pizza. Slathered with pesto and sprinkled with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, this grilled pizza will have you singing its praises.
Get the recipe: Pesto and Tomato Grilled Pizza
Succulent grilled lobster tastes divine when prepared with spiced mayonnaise and served in a grilled split bun.
Get the recipe: Grilled Lobster Rolls
Grilling fruits can bring out caramelization and intense flavors. Serve these grilled nectarines with lightly sweetened mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) as a first course or a sophisticated dessert.
Get the recipe: Grilled Nectarines with Mascarpone Cream
If you haven't tried grilling fruit before, apples are a great place to start. Pair grilled apples with flavorful cheese and drizzle with honey and toasted pecans for a quick and healthy dessert.
Get the recipe: Grilled Apples with Cheese & Honey
Reinvent the grilled cheese sandwich with unconventional fillings like this recipe that uses dark chocolate. More decadent than a chocolate croissant, this sandwich is beautiful marriage of bread and chocolate.
Get the recipe: Grilled Dark Chocolate Sandwich
Grilling peaches bring out their sweet and smoky flavors. You can use them to make tangy salsa perfect for a summer fiesta.
Get the recipe: Grilled Peach Salsa
Brown your pineapples to bring out delicious, caramelized flavor. This recipe transforms them into a sweet and slightly spicy salsa that tastes great with jerk chicken.
Get the recipe: Jerk Chicken with Fried Rice and Grilled Pineapple Salsa
Potatoes are easy to cook on the grill. This recipe wraps them in foil packets and tosses them on the grill for an easy, no-mess eat.
Get the recipe: Grilled Potato Packets
Artichokes are most often served steamed, but grilling them adds a smoky dimension to their flavor. If you can get them, first-of-the-season baby artichokes will yield extra-tender results—double the number of artichokes and reduce the cooking time as needed.
Get the recipe: Grilled Artichokes
Firm tofu is well suited for the grill because it does not fall apart. Seasoned with curry powder, the grilled tofu is not only filling, but also refreshing with its complementary sweet, spicy and tangy tamarind chutney served on the side for dipping.
Get the recipe: Grilled Curried Tofu with Sweet & Spicy Tamarind Chutney
Grill apricots to give them an alluring smokiness, and then serve them with goat cheese, arugula and a toasted pine nut dressing for a fun cross between a salad and a cheese course.
Get the recipe: Grilled Apricot, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad
Grilling can bring out the rich flavors of your asparagus. Char stalks on the grill, and then serve them with a super rich zabaglione sauce spiked with black pepper like this recipe from chef Mario Batali.
Get the recipe: Grilled Asparagus with Pepper Zabaglione
However you choose to grill your eggplants, you'll get amazing results that go well in vegetable sandwiches or baba ghanouj. Try this grilled-vegetable version of eggplant Parmesan, which is much lighter than the fried kind.
Get the recipe: Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
We always look forward to grilled corn on cob during the summer, but we'd never think to transform those grilled corn kernels into this recipe for indulgent grilled cream corn with spinach and parmesan.
Get the recipe: Grilled Creamed Corn with Spinach and Parmesan
Dark Leafy Greens like Broccoli Rabe
Although somewhat unconventional, grilling dark leafy greens like broccoli rabe is a fun way to add subtle smokiness. This recipe bumps up the flavor by tossing it with a garlic-rosemary vinaigrette.
Get the recipe: Grilled Broccoli Rabe
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