Ahhhh…summer! The sounds of food sizzling on the hot grill and the smell of barbecue fill the air. This time of the year is well known for outdoor events accompanied by a self-made grill master standing behind a fiery barbecue.
When we get together so often with friends and family members, we tend to eat more! In many cultures, socialization is centered on food and I have learned that the more appealing food looks – healthy or not – people want to eat it!
We know that a diet high in plant-based foods is cancer preventative. I have found some fun, colorful recipe ideas that are perfect for the Fourth of July festivities and they are full of fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and lower in calories.
Grilling tips for cancer prevention
First, AICR recommends avoiding processed meats like hot dogs, sausage and bratwurst because there is convincing evidence that these choices can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. For other meats, keep the portion size of your grilled red meat (beef, pork and lamb), poultry and seafood smaller than the portion size of your plant-based foods. A standard portion of meat is the size of an average person’s palm. Overall, AICR recommends limiting red meat consumption to less than 18 ounces per week. Grill up some kebabs to help decrease the amount of meat you have on the grill.
Secondly, grill meats at a lower temperature and turn them often. A compound in the protein of meat reacts under the high cooking temperature and creates heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can contribute to the development of cancer by altering the DNA in our cells. By turning down the temperature of the grill you can significantly reduce the development of HCAs. Choosing to grill plant-based foods like a variety of Grilled Vegetables or Grilled Fruits in place of meats will help you completely avoid any production of HCAs.
Thirdly, use a marinade on all of your meats for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. It is unknown exactly how marinades help to reduce the formation of HCAs but by using a marinade you can reduce the production of HCAs by up to 96%. Try a few of these great marinade ideas.
Lastly, try something new like this Grilled Pizza with Grilled Vegetables. Get creative with different types of plant-based foods. Simply wash and trim asparagus or slice some zucchini, summer squash, onion and eggplant and grill them. Keep a grill basket handy and toss in a mixture of bite-sized vegetables pieces for a quick entrée. Most firm-fleshed fruits like peaches, nectarines, bananas and pineapple hold up well on a grill and offer a quick and satisfying dessert.
Our favorite Fourth of July recipes
Make this summer a summer of healthy eating by deliberately choosing to eat foods that provide cancer-fighting properties. Start today by getting creative, making food fun and exploring the power of a mostly plant-based diet!
Potato salads are a summer barbecue staple, but mayonnaise isn’t meant to be out in the hot sun. Skip the mayo and use Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar instead.
Quinoa Pilaf with Raspberries is great for parties since it is incredibly easy to make in a large batch. Raspberries are currently in season and add a great flavor to this dish.
Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers are a great alternative to traditional burgers for those who don’t eat meat. Anyone would enjoy these burgers since they are so tasty! Plus, these patties are much lower in fat and are packed with protein and fiber.
It wouldn’t be a proper barbecue without grilled vegetables! Simply brush your vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
End the meal with a satisfying dessert that is full of color and cancer preventing power! This New York-style No Bake Cheesecake is topped with brightly colored, fresh strawberries and blueberries. The fruit on this dessert can easily be changed to raspberries, blackberries or cherries to pack a healthy punch.
Chocolate and Blueberry Tofu Mousse with Sesame Crunch is a unique recipe that has been designed with cancer prevention qualities. This recipe satisfies cravings for sweet and crunchy all at once. Try using white chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate chips and add red berries to make it fit a red, white and blue theme.
Try this tasty spin on traditional Red Velvet Cake. This recipe uses the natural red color of beets to give these cupcakes a vibrant red hue. The addition of beets also boosts the fiber, folate and phytochemical content of this moist cake. Top with dark, sweet cherries and dark chocolate shavings to set this dessert apart from the rest.
Mini Berry Parfaits make perfect appetizers or desserts. You can use your favorite fruits to top them, but berries make the perfect toppings for this weekend!
Grilled Peaches with Honey, Yogurt & Mint are the perfect barbecue desert. Peaches are at their peak season in the summertime and are delicious served warm. Top them off with some Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.