6 Tips to Get the Most Nutrients from the Grill
By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
May 25, 2021
Finally, grilling season is upon us! When it comes to the grill, people tend to stick with their tried-and-true techniques …. sometimes at the loss of nutrients along the way. To get the most nutrients from every bite, here are six easy tips to make sure your veggies aren’t overcooked, and your meat is tasty and juicy.
- Parchment before Aluminum: When making foil packets to toss on the grill, always use a sheet of parchment between your food and the aluminum. This Dishing Up Nutrition episode described why: “Aluminum hampers the body's ability to utilize calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin A as well. Here's another shocking piece of information: impaired memory, motor coordination, and also Alzheimer's disease and osteoporosis have been linked to systemic aluminum toxicity.” Yikes! Heed these warnings by using parchment paper between the food and the aluminum foil.
- Indirect Heat for Veggies is Best: For veggies, the higher & longer the heat, the more polyphenols will be lost. Polyphenols help protect your body from oxidative stress, which can cause inflammation, certain cancers and coronary heart disease. Put your vegetables on the cooler side of the grill and then lower the lid, to keep them crisp tender and lock in more of those nutrients.
- Use Separate Skewers: For a better result – more even and thorough cooking – keep your meat and veggies on separate skewers or kabobs. This will ensure that your protein is cooked through without overcooking your veggies, which can diminish their quality. Note, if you’re using wooden skewers, make sure to soak them for 30 minutes or so in water before use. This will prevent them from catching fire and ruining your meat or veggies.
- Employ the 80/20 Rule for Meat: This is one of those things that every griller has an opinion on and here is ours: we personally use the 80/20 method when cooking meat. Cook steaks, burgers, or chicken breasts 80% on one side, then finish on the other side for the final 20% of the time. (Note that pork chops require a slightly different grill approach, google that and test the many opinions!) This gives a nice crust and allows for the juices to stay inside with less flipping. Once it’s done, make sure to rest your meat. If you cut into your pork chop, chicken, or burger when it’s still piping hot, all the juices will run out and your meat will be dry. Letting it rest for 10 minutes on a plate tented with foil (not touching the meat) allows the juices to cool just enough so they don’t all end up on your plate.
- Avoid Grill Marks: The charred compounds (heterocyclic amines) on meat and veggies taste good and gives us those telltale grill marks … however, they have been linked to some kinds of cancer. Not worth it. Avoid this by keeping flare-ups down with a spray bottle of water and by cooking at lower temperatures.
- Cast Iron Skillet to the Rescue: Don’t forget about your cast iron skillet! It is a great grilling tool to keep veggies from falling through the grates and provides a nice, even heat. So many people think of their iron skillet as just a kitchen tool, but it’s so versatile and works just as well on the grill. Friendly reminder to never use soap on your cast iron pans since it will remove that beautiful layer of seasoning you are trying to develop. Use a scrubby pad and a little water to remove stuck on food, then wipe it down with a very thin layer of oil.
Like these tips and want more like it? All of them came from our talented chef and virtual cooking class teacher, Marianne. Marianne’s classes fill up fast and cover topics from batch cooking to Instant Pot tutorials, all designed to build your confidence in the kitchen (or grill!) and take control of your health.
For more information on grilling and food nutrients, check out these resources:
- Read: How to Cook: Grilling, some great recipes here to try on the grill and more how-to tips!
- Try: Grilled Peaches & Cream Recipe a perfect dessert (or bedtime snack) from the grill!
- Try: Grilled Steak with Chimichurri Sauce Recipe
- Try: Spicy Shrimp