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5 healthy grilling tips

Before firing up the grill, check out these simple tips for safe, healthy, eco-friendly grilling.

1. Grill with gas. Charcoal grills emit nearly three times the carbon emissions as propane grills. And standard briquettes, made from compressed wood byproducts, contain polluting additives. Crave that charcoal flavor? Get two smoke boxes (available at hardware stores); place them between your cooking grate and the burners or heat stones, away from the grill center. Fill with additive-free lump or natural-hardwood charcoal; light before you ignite the propane. (Eco-bonus: When cool, use the lump charcoal ash to alkalize garden soil.)

2. Clean regularly. Keeping your grill grate clean yields tastier, healthier food, plus it prolongs the life of the grill. Before heating, remove any ash, scrub with a wire brush, and then lightly brush the grate with vegetable or olive oil to keep foods from sticking. After cooking, lower the grill lid for about 5 minutes (with the heat still on, if using gas). Turn off heat and scour the grate again with a grill brush.

3. Think ahead. Remove meats and seafood from the fridge about an hour before grilling so that it comes to room temperature, ensuring the center will cook through.

4. Be ready. Grilling is fast. Before you grill, prepare all side dishes and salads. Set the table. Have beverages ready. And be sure all seasonings, grill tools (tongs, basting brush), oven mitts, and platters for the finished food are within easy reach. Never reuse the platter or bowl that held the marinating, raw meat or fish.

5. Make sure the food is properly cooked before you bring it to the table. Cut into meats, if necessary, to ensure they are cooked through; or use a meat thermometer. 

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