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Summer Eats - Meat Meets Heat
CBC Radio | August 18, 2006

Healthy Grilling

Click to listen to the RealAudio file Listen (runs 5:45)

Grilling doesn't have a reputation as the healthiest form of cooking. There seems to be a lot of fat flying around, and what about the carcinogens in those blackened edges?

Chef Craig Youdale doesn't deny that cooking on the grill can be a recipe for unhealthy eating, but he offers some suggestions on how to make your backyard cooking healthier.

It starts with the ingredients, and in particular, how much fat there is in the meat you're cooking. Chicken with the skin on has a higher fat content. A fat cap on your beef is a sign of something less healthy coming your way.

But if you've read some of Youdale's other suggestions, you also know that higher fat contents help keep meat from drying out. Marinades can also help keep meat from drying out, however, so instead of relying on the fat in chicken skin, go with a skinless piece protected with a marinade.

As far charring, well yes, there is research to suggest that blackened meat isn't good for you. Turning down the heat will prevent much of that, and also help keep the moisture in.

Don't forget the vegetables and Youdale's adage — anything that doesn't fall through the cracks can be grilled. As a rule of thumb, Youdale says that if you can eat it raw you can throw it straight on the grill for cooking. A light brush of olive oil and you're ready to go. If you think the vegetables might fall through the cracks, wrap them tinfoil.

But finally, remember life is about balance, and cooking is also about flavour.

"We've all had those baby back ribs," says Youdale. "They have a lot of fat content. That's why they taste so good."

Too much fat is bad for you, but it's also true that a certain amount of fat is going to make your food taste better on the grill.

And those blackened edges?

"What can I say? I like things charred," says Youdale. "I think it comes down to flavour. You have to make that decision."


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