As you probably know, vegetables are not only considered to be incredibly good for our health and well-being, and if cooked right, they are certainly much more than a basic accompaniment to meat, fish, and other main meals. The problem that some people have with vegetables is the fact that they overcook them, under-cook them, or simply cook them wrong, so not only are they the wrong texture, but they also taste pretty bland, or pretty foul if truth be told. However, if cooked correctly, fresh vegetables will not only bring any main meal to life, but truthfully they will taste better than many of you could have ever imagined a vegetable to taste in the first place. Without a doubt, the most beneficial and popular method of cooking vegetables nowadays is grilling, but why is grilling becoming so popular when it comes to the humble veggie?
Grilling as a Method of Cooking
Grilling, or barbequing as you may know it, is a popular method of cooking over an open flame, usually outdoors in the warmer summer months. With grilling, you cook the food on a metal grill, either over hot charcoal, or gas burners, to give the food a fantastic smoky taste that just cannot be matched in any other way. Grilling not only makes the food taste amazing, it also makes it look fantastic, as there is just something about fresh grill char marks that makes food seem that little bit more appetizing.
Grilling helps us to consume more veggies – As you probably know, fresh vegetables are an essential part of a balanced and healthy everyday diet, as vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, dietary fiber, and other nutrients that do the body a whole world of good. By eating vegetables, we can help control our weight, lower our bad cholesterol, boost our immune systems, strengthen our hearts, cardiovascular systems, boost our brain power, and fight off illness and disease. The problem is that many people are not getting enough veggies in their diets as they find that they lack flavour and are of the wrong texture. Grilling however, caramelizes the natural sugars and juice in vegetables while adding smoky flavour and crispy texture, which in turn makes them more appealing and enables us to consume more fresh veggies on a regular basis.
Is grilling a safe method for cooking foods? – When we think of grilling, some of the first examples of food that instantly spring to mind are steaks, burgers, sausages, chicken legs, and various types of fish. The problem with grilling meat and fish, however, is that the cooking process generates two forms of toxic chemicals and by-products, known as: Heterocyclic amines, or HCAs for short, and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or PAHs for short. Studies have found that these chemicals contain carcinogenic properties that have been linked to a number of aggressive strains of cancer.
Does that mean grilled veggies can also be bad for us? – No, it does not. You see, the HCAs and PAHs we mentioned previously, are only produced naturally via grilled fish or meat, and they are not present in vegetables. This means that, even when charred and cooked over high heats, vegetables will not create carcinogenic compounds that damage your health and could result in cancer. Put simply, grilled vegetables are perfectly safe and are incredibly healthy and delicious.
General tips for grilling perfect veggies
Before we wrap things up, let’s finish up by taking a look at a few general tips for grilling perfect vegetables each and every single time you cook some up. These tips include the following:
Use a grilling basket – One reason why people are put off from grilling vegetables is the fact that, due to their natural size and shape, many of them may roll in-between the grill racks or off the side of the grill itself. Using metal skewers or aluminium foil is often a solution that people tend to try, but again, the foil can break and collapse, and can prevent you from cooking over an open flame, plus the vegetables may often fall off the skewer, and again, fall into the burning fire. Grilling baskets however, are perfect for small and fiddly vegetables because they allow the user to stir and flip the foods as they wish, without making a mess. It keeps the veggies together so they don’t fall through the grates.
Grease the basket with oil or butter – Coat the bottom and sides of the basket with olive oil or spray it with Pam to prevent the veggies from sticking to the pan. Preheat the basket before you throw in your veggies.
Use a marinade – Marinades are not only for meat and fish, as marinated vegetables will taste absolutely fantastic. You can marinade them in whatever you like, though generally olive oil, garlic, natural yoghurt, and fresh herbs and spices are some of the more popular examples.
Keep an eye on your veggies – There is nothing worse than an overcooked vegetable, so when cooking them over the grill, make sure you keep an eye on them to ensure they’re cooked just right. Don’t mess with them that much, other than giving them the odd flip, but if you notice them burning or sticking, move them to a cooler part of the grill and let them cook slower instead. 15 minutes on a very hot grill is about right for most veggies.
Don’t touch the handles – Make sure to use a heat resistant gloves when handle it, as basket becomes very hot after sitting on a grill.
Image courtesy of KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net