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Summer is the prime time for grilling. Whether your menu includes simple burgers or something more elaborate, a little preparation can help you serve up a healthy meal.
It is important that you start out clean. Don’t let the charred buildup on your grill transfer to your meal. Use a wire brush to clean your grill. Then wipe it down with a cloth or a bunch of paper towels to make sure that no grill-cleaning bristles will get into your food. Exposing protein-rich meat, poultry, and fish to high heat and open flames creates chemicals linked to various types of cancer; and when fat drips and burns on the grill, the resulting smoke also contains toxic substances linked to cancer. You can reduce the formation of these compounds in several ways: Line the grill with foil perforated with holes, cook for longer at a lower temperature, or have a spray bottle filled with water handy to control fatty flare-ups. Marinating food for a while before cooking limits the formation of potential carcinogens while grilling. Recipes abound for healthy marinades that will add flavor to whatever you are grilling. If you rely on bottled marinades, choose those that are low in salt. Grilling vegetables and fruits intensifies their flavor, just as it does for meat. Kebabs that alternate meat with pieces of onion, pepper, or other veggies are a great way to increase vegetable and fruit intake. Or skip meat altogether, with something like grilled eggplant cutlets with tomato or portabella mushroom “steak” sandwiches. Practice safe grilling; keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from vegetables and other foods. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of grilled meat, poultry, and seafood. Place grilled foods on clean plates, not on the ones that held them when they were raw.
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