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 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. For the 4th of July, these healthy food attributes can be included. Try fun, colorful recipe ideas that are perfect for the festivities, full of fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants while lower in calories.
Grilling tips for cancer prevention
- Avoid or reduce consumption of processed meats like hot dogs, sausage and bratwurst. There is convincing evidence that these choices can increase the risk of colorectal cancer [i]. 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.
- 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 may contribute to the development of cancer by altering the DNA in our cells [ii]. 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.
- 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 [iii]. Try a few of these great marinade ideas.
- Get creative with the grill. Grilled Pizza with Grilled Vegetables is a good option. 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
Deliberately choose 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.
It wouldn’t be a proper barbecue without grilled vegetables! Simply brush your vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper.
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.