The healthy barbecue how-to
A barbecue makes a perfect summer picnic. But health-wise, ‘the risks can take the bang out of a char-grilled sausage,’ as the male cancer charity Orchid puts it... Specifically, processed meats (such as hot dogs and pre-packed burgers) are linked to colorectal and lung cancer and charred red meat can generate compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which may increase the risk of prostate, colorectal and pancreatic cancer. But in a neat twist, Orchid (www.orchid-cancer.org.uk) is turning the tables so you can fire up the barbie in a healthy way and help beat cancer. The charity has teamed up with nutritionist Sarah West to offer recipes, tips, party and fundraising ideas so you can have a barbecue and raise money for this important charity at the same time. A Big BBQ event pack is available at www.the-big-bbq.co.uk and here are some of Sarah’s sizzling ideas.
• Keep the grill clean so HCAs don’t build up and transfer to food. Oil the grill with light (not extra virgin) olive oil or organic rapeseed oil to prevent burning, charring and sticking.
• Trim excess fat to reduce smoke flare-ups, which may contain HCAs.
• Don’t burn your food. Light charring is part of the fun but blackened meat is the most likely to release HCAs. So reduce the heat or raise the grill away from the heat.
• Precook meat in your kitchen then finish on the barbecue. Less time on the grill means less exposure to HCAs, but you still get the authentic flavour.
• Cook minced meat, eg, sausages and burgers, all the way through on a steady heat; they are only safe when piping hot in the middle. Cut into the thickest part to check there is no pink meat and the juices run clear. Steak and whole cuts of beef and lamb are safe to serve rare as long as the outside is properly cooked to kill any surface bacteria.
• Marinating meat in a flavoursome, antioxidant-rich blend (see below) before grilling reduces the potentially carcinogenic properties of even blackened meat.
• To marinate 4 steaks, combine: 4 crushed garlic cloves, 5 torn basil leaves, 2 tbsp each chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and 4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil. Coat the steaks in this, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before grilling.
• Choose fish or shellfish instead of meat. Salmon, tuna and big prawns can go straight on the grill.
• Eat lots of cancer-fighting broccoli with your barbecue, delicious stir-fried with ginger and garlic.
HOW CAN I HIDE MY WHITE PATCHES?
Q. I have white patches on my legs, due to having lost melanin. How can I blend them in with my tan?
A. You don’t say if the cause of your loss of melanin – the pigment that colours skin – has been diagnosed. There are several possibilities including the autoimmune condition vitiligo, where antibodies destroy the pigment cells, drug-induced pigmentation changes, and changes following inflammatory conditions such as eczema. Whatever the cause, the charity Changing Faces runs a free Skin Camouflage Service (www.changingfaces.org.uk/skin-camouflage). Your GP or dermatologist can refer you, or you can refer yourself. An alternative is the British Association of Skin Camouflage (www.skin-camouflage.net). It is vital to use high-factor sunscreen, as the un-pigmented patches have no natural sun protection. Some brands can be prescribed by your doctor. The Vitiligo Society (www.vitiligosociety.org.uk) also advises wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and loose cotton clothing, and keeping in the shade from 11a.m. to 3 p.m.
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