Real Men Cook & Eat Healthy

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June is Men's Health Month, and what better time to get cooking than summer, when the produce is ripe and the grill is calling?

While the stereotype of men being more comfortable at the grill than the stove may or may not be true, there's no reason the grill can't cover all of your bases for a healthy meal. Skip the processed meats like hot dogs and bratwurst. Chicken, fish, and lean cuts of beef marinated in vinaigrette, vegetables with a light spray of olive oil and sprinkle of herbs, and firm fruits, like peaches and pineapple, can all be prepared on the grill. Other than a little slicing and dicing in the kitchen, there's not much effort involved. And, the new digital meat thermometers that double as meat forks take all the guesswork out of grilling. (160 degrees Fahrenheit is considered safe.) Top it off with whole grain rolls and a pitcher of ice water infused with lemon, lime, strawberries, cucumber, or any combination that sounds tasty, and you've got an inviting meal.

Avoid ingesting carcinogens that can be created by grilling by following these tips:

  • Marinate meats in a mix of oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices. Mix your own, or use bottled vinaigrette salad dressing. It not only encourages flavor and tenderness, but reduces carcinogens created in the grilling process by as much as eighty percent, according to a study by the Food Safety Consortium.
  • Clean your grill. Brushing off charred residue from previous meals reduces the amount of carcinogens present.
  • Avoid flare-ups that cause your food to char. Choosing leaner cuts of meat will reduce the amount of grease that drips onto the coals, which often causes flare-ups.
  • Reduce cooking time on the grill. Cut meat into smaller pieces, or pre-cook in the microwave, so that you're just using the grill to finish it off. Larger pieces of meat are often charred on the outside by the time the inside is thoroughly cooked.

New Hope Baptist Church in Grand Rapids will host the YMCA's Healthy Cooking Matters Class on June 11 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. After completing the class, participants are eligible to take part in the "Real Men Cook & Eat Healthy" friendly cooking competition at the Baxter Community Center Friday, June 13 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. No fee is required, but pre-registration is necessary for both events. To register for the cooking class and contest, RSVP please contact Cle Jackson, senior community liaison Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Community Responsibility, at [email protected]

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