Log In

Reset Password

Your summer grill guidelines

Here comes the sun! You know that summer is officially on its way when you burn the back of your thighs on the car seat. I’ve made this mistake on the bike, too, and I wonder how all the teenagers in tiny shorts manage. Unfortunately, my days of the shortest shorts are over, but on the upside, my backside is a few inches safer.

We’re big on sun-safety in our house but that extends beyond hats and sunscreen. Just as sunburn can increase your risk of premature ageing and cancer, so too can burning your food on the grill. At this time every year, I roll out these summer grill guidelines because it’s just so important not to expose yourself to char on repeat. And the methods for reducing your exposure to dangerous chemicals are easy. Just read below!

These tips aren’t just about how to avoid burning your food, but also the kinds of food you want to consider serving as a side. As you’ll see, adding abundant fresh herbs is a huge win, as is packing your sides with naturally colourful fruit and veg. I’ve included two new recipes to give you some ideas. Enjoy!

Your summer grill guidelines

1, Cook over a lower heat for longer. Obviously it's important to make sure that poultry and meat are cooked to the proper internal temperature but there is no harm in taking a little more time if you can spare it.

2, Given that flames flare up when fat drips down on to the coals, try and choose leaner cuts of meat, trim visible excess or cook marbled cuts of meat on a shelf away from direct heat. This reduces the formation of cancer-causing compounds HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which arise when meat is cooked at a very high temperature or comes into contact with flames.

3, The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends marinating meat for at least 30 minutes — the impact of which is impressive. In a recent study, the American Chemical Society noted that marinating meats in beer slowed down carcinogen formation by up to 53 per cent (the darker the ale, the better). However, one study showed that a combination of olive oil and lemon juice was most effective, reducing cancer causing compounds by 99 per cent.

4, Add fresh herbs to your marinade as these may reduce carcinogen formation too, according to Food Safety Consortium scientists at Kansas State University. Tear the herbs to allow their oils to infuse the marinade and consider adding extra fresh herbs to an accompanying salad too.

5, Make half your plate vegetables. I know it sounds like a lot, but the “five-a-day” recommendation is quite frankly a starting point. Vegetables are full of the phytonutrients and fibre that help to reduce cancer risk. It's also about what those vegetables replace too. If by eating more veg you eat less carbs, you're on to a winner. I am very pro carbs but they should only form about one quarter of your plate — especially in the evening.

6, Choose cruciferous vegetables (eg broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts). A study from the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention illustrated that the glucosinolates found so prolifically in cruciferous veg are protective against both HCAs and PAHs. The Honk Kong Confetti or Kickin' Kale salads at Miles would be perfect (and they're delicious).

7, And finally, clean that grill. A mega pain I know, especially if you only get round to it the morning after. However, cleaning the grill reduces the amount of burnt char you eat. Char intake is linked to premature ageing as well as carcinogen formation so it's a double whammy.

Herbed Potato Salad (serves 4)


16 new potatoes, halved

½ cup chopped fresh herbs (I like tarragon and chives)

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

2 tbsps olive oil

1 tbsp wholegrain or Dijon mustard

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Sea salt and black pepper


1. Boil or ideally steam the potatoes until tender – approximately 12-14 minutes.

2. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl (including most of the fresh herbs)

3. Toss the potatoes in the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and top with the remaining herbs.

Watermelon with mint and jalapeno (serves 4)


4 cups diced fresh watermelon

¼ red onion, thinly sliced

½ cup fresh mint leaves, torn

1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced

½ lime, juiced

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and black pepper


1. Toss the watermelon, red onion, mint and jalepeno together gently in a large bowl

2. Drizzle with the lime juice, a generous glug of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss again!

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION, BNTA is a fully qualified Nutritional Therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Join Catherine on Facebook: facebook.com/nutrifitandnaturalnutritionbermuda or instagram @naturalbda

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published May 31, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated May 31, 2024 at 7:36 am)

Your summer grill guidelines

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon