I love to grill! As soon as the weather warms up enough, I liked to fire up the grill start cooking. Before my diagnosis, I grilled filet mignon or chicken quite often. I loved my New Braunfels smoker at home so much that I got a second one just like it for our lake house. My fuel of choice was always Match Light Charcoal. It is fast lighting and stays lit once it’s going. There was always a large bag of Match Light Charcoal opened somewhere near my grill and a couple of spare bags in the outdoor cabinet.
Beth had started quietly mentioning that she felt that the meats cooked over the Match Light Charcoal could be carcinogenic, because they were getting infused with the lighter fluid’s smoke. What she didn’t realize was that even just the smoke from the charcoal is carcinogenic. And any of the meat which gets charred is also carcinogenic. This was something we learned together as I began to look at everything in my diet which could be cancer causing.
Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs) form when red meat, chicken and fish are grilled over a high heat. HCAs have been shown to damage our genes, which raises our risk of developing cancer. I realized I needed to make a change in how I grill.
Beth and I looked into various types of grills, including electric grills and gas grills. We found a good infrared gas grill made by CharBroil® which allows me to control the level of the heat AND eliminates the smoke from cooking over charcoal–the TRU-Infrared Gas Grill. We began cooking fish and vegetables on the new grill and the occasional skinless, boneless free range chicken over a lowered heat to avoid the formation of HCAs. I also clean the grill thoroughly before cooking on it each time to avoid having any remaining meat stuck to the cooking surface becoming burned and sticking to our evening’s dinner.
Beth prepares whatever I am going to grill by seasoning it and lightly brushing it with either grape seed oil or tea oil. Sometimes when I am grilling fish or shrimp, Beth will brush it with coconut oil. That gives it a really nice flavor.
As we learned more about cooking food over high heat, we learned that there are quite a lot of carcinogenic chemicals formed in foods when they are cooked to a very dark point, such as dark-toasted bread, fried potatoes, chips, and even heavily caramelized vegetables. As vegetables brown, the sugars in vegetables begin to burn. Any burned food should not be eaten! This really opened Beth’s eyes—she always liked to eat the darker-cooked pancakes, toasted her bread (even gluten-free bread) to a very dark color and oven-cooked zucchini within an inch of its life. My experience with cancer led her to change her habits, as well.
We still enjoy grilling – we just go about it in a different way.