Grilling & Hydration


Two of my favorite summertime themes are grilling and hydration. Here are some tips to keep you healthy:

Start off right and cover half of the grill with veggies. Peppers, onions, asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms…we even grill avocado and peaches from time to time!
Grilling and cooking on high heat causes the production of heterocyclic amine (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can be carcinogenic.  Veggies and fruit don’t form these harmful compounds, only animal products do. The black char on foods may look and taste delicious, but it’s a not a great sign for health. Marinating can reduce HCAs over 95%, which is a sweet deal for something that tastes great.
Marinades can range from super simple to extremely elaborate. Generally, marinades are a combo of
·         some kind of fat
·         something acidic, like lemon or lime, vinegar, etc.
·         something savory or sweet, like soy sauce, OJ, etc.
·         something aromatic: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, (sing it with me!) basil, oregano, garlic, onions, hot pepper, etc.
Not only do marinades reduce HCAs, but most of the herbs do have a good range of antioxidants that offer other health benefits in addition to taste. Marinades also generally shorten the cooking time, so keep an eye out so nothing burns.
Notice that I didn’t mention grilling hot dogs. That actually isn’t an oversight. Studies found that there was no safe threshold for consumption of processed meats like hot dogs.

It’s so hot today I get dehydrated just looking out the window! Normally, the general rule is if you take your weight and divide that number in half, that’s approximately the number of ounces of fluid you need daily. On a scorcher like today, you’ll need more, and same goes for if you’re doing intense physical activity.
If you’re anything like me, drinking water can be a struggle, and getting in enough is an uphill battle. The good news is that a wide range of fluids count—from sparkling waters to tea to broth to coconut water. Even coffee helps some, but don’t overdo it!

Many veggies and fruit can be a great source of hydration, including

  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Zucchini
  • Radishes
  • Celery
  • Tomato
  • Cabbage
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe

and my personal favorite for today, peaches!
Wishing you a delicious and healthy summer

Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Wellcoach in Fairfax & Alexandria, VA.  She helps people with a range of dietary issues, including Celiac Disease, GI issues, food allergies, pregnancy, breastfeeding, vegetarian and vegan diets, preventing diseases and “whole foods” eating. Let’s get you on your way to achieving your goals and feeling great!  Email or call 571-271-8742.

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