Tag Archives: summer

Grilling Nutrition

It’s beginning to feel like summer at my house.  Summer means outdoors, both for eating and cooking.  Up until recently, we had a small little camping grill we used.  It worked well, although did have severe capacity limitations.  My husband recently purchased a Traeger pellet grill to upgrade our outdoor cooking, and boy is it an upgrade.  It can smoke, grill, bake, and the list seems to go on.  We are loving it.

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However, the risk of cancer from eating “grilled” meats has been in the news in recent years. I wondered if the same risks were true for smoked meats, as well as if it depended on the heat source of your grill (charcoal vs. gas vs. wood). So I did some research for all of us.

The carcinogenic compounds formed when grilling meats are heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). HCAs are formed when you cook meat at very high temperatures, like you can get on a gas or charcoal grill or even a very hot grill pan or broiler. PAHs are formed in the flames that flare up when fat from you meat drips into your flame and then chars the food. Some studies suggest PAHs are also formed when you smoke meats.

I couldn’t find any definitive evidence that any particular heat source causes more or less of these substances to be formed. I think it would come down to temperature and control of the flame. I do know that in our Traeger, there is a drip pan that prevents fat from getting to the flame and stops flare ups. It also cannot go above a temperature of about 500. That would make me guess that a grill like that MIGHT form less PAHs and HCAs, but I can’t be sure. And food can still become “charred” on the grill, just like in your oven when things burn. (As is seen in my kebabs below, recipe to follow next week).

Grilled Kebabs

After all my research, I actually came to the same conclusions I had before. Grilling or smoking is a great way to cook meat without adding fat while still retaining/adding flavor. However, you want to prevent lots of “char” or burn marks on your meat. And, as always, eat these foods in moderation, like everything else.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the risk of cancer from eating grilled or smoked meats in the comments. Happy summer!

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Sweet Potato Salad

I can’t believe it is almost Labor Day. Summer is really ending. I hope you have one last cookout or picnic planned for the weekend. If you do, liven up your meal with this sweet potato salad. While it is great anytime, it is the perfect transition from summer to fall. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Salad (Serves 6-8)

Sweet Potato Salad

2 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 cup light olive oil mayonnaise
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup green onions
¼ teaspoon sriracha (or to taste)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Boil sliced sweet potatoes until just fork tender. Rinse with cool water.

2. Combine remaining ingredients. Lightly toss dressing over sweet potatoes until combined.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 206
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 12 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 10 mg
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 295 mg

Source: adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Roasted Tomato Risotto

My family always had a garden growing up. Tomatoes were one of the few vegetables we grew well. I’ll admit, I haven’t always loved tomatoes. For the most part, raw tomatoes aren’t my thing, unless it is in something. Cooked is a different story. This risotto is a great way to use enjoy all of the awesome tomatoes in season right now.

Roasted Tomato Risotto (Serves 3-4)

Roasted Tomato Risotto

8 medium tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
5 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Toss the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast for 35 minutes. Set aside.

3. Heat stock until boiling. Reduce heat to a low simmer.

4. Puree ½ of the roasted tomatoes in a food processor.

5. Heat remaining olive oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, saute for 3-5 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add garlic; saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Add rice. Cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add ½ cup of stock; stir to scrape up any brown bits off the pan. When stock is mostly evaporated, stir in 1 cup of stock and the pureed tomatoes. Stir frequently. When it is almost evaporated, add another ½ cup. Continue stirring and adding stock as it evaporates until stock no longer evaporates and rice is tender.

6. Stir in the parmesan, basil, and remaining roasted tomatoes.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 341
Protein: 12 g
Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 54 g
Fiber: 3 g
Sodium: 362 mg

Recipe Source: adapted from Drizzle and Drip

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Zucchini Corn Fritters

It’s getting to be that time of year where gardens are going crazy. Or if you don’t have a garden, corn, zucchini, and tomatoes are fairly inexpensive and extra tasty at the store. Here’s a great side dish or snack utilizing some of the produce in season right now.

Zucchini Corn Fritters (Makes about 18 fritters)

Zucchini Corn Fritters

1 ½ cups packed shredded zucchini (no need to peel the zucchini)
½ cup corn kernels
1 green onion, diced
1-2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
⅓ cup bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray.

2. Wring out excess water in zucchini, making sure it is really dry.

3. Combine zucchini and remaining ingredients in a bowl until combined. Add additional egg if mixture is too dry.

4. Drop by spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Lightly flatten into fritter shape. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden and center is set.

Nutritional Information (Amount per fritter):

Calories: 23
Protein: 1 g
Fat: 1 g
Saturated Fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Carbohydrates: 3 g
Fiber: less than 1 g
Sodium: 45 mg

Recipe source: adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

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Grilled Salmon

I am always looking for new salmon marinades. I have tried and enjoyed several in the last few months. Unfortunately, I often forget to write down what I did. Marinades are tricky like that for me. I just start throwing things into the bag with the fish. I don’t measure carefully or anything.

I finally made myself write one down, and I really enjoyed it. It is Asian inspired, but is different from my previous Asian Glazed Salmon. Enjoy!

Grilled Salmon (Serves 4)

Grilled Salmon

4 salmon fillets
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground ginger
Dash sriracha
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Combine salmon with the remaining ingredients in a resealable bag or container. Refrigerate. Let marinate for at least an hour, up to overnight.

2. Remove fish from marinade and scared remaining marinade.

3. Preheat grill to medium to medium-high heat. Grill fish about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked to a minimum of 145 degrees.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 472
Protein: 66 g
Fat: 17 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 146 mg
Carbohydrates: 9 g
Fiber: 0 g
Sodium: 503 mg

Source: adapted from several sources online

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Carrot Salad with Chickpeas

One of my favorite parts of summer is all of the yummy salads that are served at cookouts. I love being able to taste all of the different kinds. Vegetable salads, pasta salads, makes no difference to me. However, I don’t know that I’ve ever tried carrot salad before. I think because every version I’ve seen before has raisins in it. While I like raisins, carrots and raisins seem like an odd combo to me.

This salad was amazing. Great Mediterranean flavors that come together very quickly. My toddler even ate some, which is always a miracle. Take it to your next summer event. You’ll definitely have a unique offering that will be a big hit. Enjoy!

Carrot Salad with Chickpeas (Serves 8 or more)

Carrot Salad with Chickpeas

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped walnuts
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup lime juice
3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Heat oven to 425.

2. Toss chickpeas, one tablespoon olive oil, and cumin together. Spread evenly on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast in oven until crisp, about 15-20 minutes. Toss occasionally during cooking. Revue from oven and set aside.

3. Place carrots in a large bowl. Toss with cilantro, walnuts, and chickpeas.

4. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk until well combined. Toss with the carrot mixture. Can serve immediately or chill.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 172
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Fiber: 4 g
Sodium: 109 mg

Recipe Notes: I used a food processor on the carrots, which made the process go much faster. If using a regular grater, use the larger holes. The chickpeas can get a little bit soggy as it sits, but not horribly.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Better Green Bean Salad

Every summer, my dad’s work would have a company picnic. For years, it was a mostly potluck affair at a big park. And my dad ALWAYS made three bean salad to take. It was the only time my family ever made that salad. And I ALWAYS refused to eat any of it. Even since then, I usually see recipes for bean salad and run away.

However, I needed a veggie salad for a cookout recently and stumbled on this recipe. If you are still on the hunt for something different to round out your Fourth of July celebration, this is it. Easy to prepare whether you are hosting or just bringing a side. Simple, delicious flavors that surprise you. Enjoy!

Better Green Bean Salad (Makes 6-8 servings)

Better Green Bean Salad

½ lb green beans, trimmed and chopped into bite size pieces
1-2 yellow crookneck squash, sliced lengthwise
½ tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
½ tablespoon dijon mustard
½ teaspoon dried herbs – savory blend or italian seasoning
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil

1. Place green beans on a piece of foil. Lightly coat green beans and squash with ½ tablespoon olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

2. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place foil with green beans and squash on the grill. Cook, covered, until green beans are beginning to soften and squash has lightly charred on both sides (flip the squash after about 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat. Let cool. Chop squash into bite size pieces.

3. In a large bowl, mix together vinegar, remaining olive oil, honey, mustard, and dried herbs. Add green beans, squash, tomatoes, and fresh basil to the bowl. Gently toss. Can serve immediately or chilled.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving):

Calories: 67
Protein: 2 g
Fat: 4 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrates: 8 g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 117 mg

Recipe Notes: I only used one squash and it was on the smaller side. It could have used more, so I’d go for 1 big squash or 2 small ones. If you aren’t already grilling, you could either sauté the green beans and squash in a skillet or blanche them until just cooked in some boiling water. The goal is tender but not mushy vegetables. I like the “grilled” taste, though. This can be made a few hours in advance. However, the tomatoes especially get mushy the longer it sits. You could mix everything together except the tomatoes and basil well ahead of time, then add in the tomatoes and basil just before serving.

Source: adapted from Cuisine at Home

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