Friday, September 27, 2013

Grilling – How Safe is it?

In the U.S. grilling is one popular method of preparing  food, especially meat, during the summer time. In fact, today, there is hardly a home without a grill or two. However, grilling over high open flame for too long allegedly  increases the risk of cancer.

Why Grilling Might be Unsafe

According to some researchers, there may be a cancer risk related to consuming food cooked by high-heat source techniques --- such as pan-frying or grilling directly over an open flame --- for too long (especially above 300 °F). They believe that chemicals formed when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), sugars, and creatine (a substance found in muscle meat) react at high temperatures, these chemicals then drip on the charcoal causing flare-up of flames. These flames containing these chemical then adhere to the surface of the meat.  

How to Play it Safe

Based on present research findings however, eating moderate amounts of grilled meats for example, fish, meat, and poultry that are cooked to a safe temperature does not pose a problem, as long as they are not charred. Below is a list of safe internal temperatures recommended by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).





 SAFE MINIMUM INTERNAL TEMPERATURES
Whole poultry: 165 °F
Poultry breasts: 165 °F
Ground poultry: 165 °F
Ground meats: 160 °F
Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts and chops): 145 °F and allow to rest at least 3 minutes.

How to Prevent Charring of Meats

To prevent charring, prior to grilling you should always remove all visible fat that can cause a flare-up of flame. You can also precook meat in a microwave, oven or on stove top immediately before placing it on the grill. Not only will this help to reduce cooking time, this approach also helps to release some of this carcinogenic chemicals formed in the inner portion of the meat that usually drop on the hot coals and cause high flames to flare-up.

Although we are still not sure as to what percentage of this carcinogenic substance ( substance formed  when heat reacts with the muscle cells of meat), we have to consume before it can actually leads to cancer. It's still better to start taking all precautionary measures now--- Don't wait until it's too late! As the old saying goes, "Prevention is better than cure."

Our Kitchen Lab - Cooking Tips, Recommendations, Advice, Precautions, an...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cancer - Blame it on Our Diet

When we prepare our meals, we shouldn’t only prepare food just to satisfy our hunger. We should also try as much as possible to select food items that are very nutritious and can help to reduce the risk of certain illnesses, such as  diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and other.  Because cancer is by far the most deadly of all illnesses mentioned above, it’s of paramount importance that we fully grasp the co-relations between nutrition and cancer, and the actions we can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of this illness.

Fighting Cancer
No doubt that the most effective approach in the fight against cancer is health education, such as educating ourselves on the importance of negative lifestyle modifications. Since nutrition is believed to be one of the primary causes of cancer, in this post we will be focusing mainly on a few recommended dietary changes that can help tremendously to minimize the likelihood of developing cancer.

Recommended Dietary Changes
The American Cancer society believes that approximately one-third of all cancers in the United States are related to nutrition. It suffices to say that a healthy diet can truly play an important role in reducing the risk for cancer.  Based on RDA(required dietary allowances) recommendation, the diet should be low in fat (particularly from animal sources), high in fiber, and include a substantial amount of foods from plant sources. Protein intake should be limited to the RDA guidelines, and the daily consumption of cruciferous vegetables, fruits, and green tea are also encouraged. Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation.

As far as fat, fibers, proteins, fruits, and vegetables are concerned, let’s take a closer look at the RDA recommendations and the reasons we should limit the intake of the above groups of food within the specified guidelines.

Fat

1Total fat intake should be limited to less than 20% of total daily calories.
Why?

  •  High fat intake has been linked primarily to breast, colon, and prostate cancers.

Fiber

 2. Consume at least 2.5 grams of fiber daily.
Why?

  • Low intake of fiber seems to increase the risk for colon cancer.
  •  Fibers seem to decrease the risk for colon cancer

What is one good source of  fiber?
Example: Grains

Why?

  • Grains are high in fiber and contain vitamins and minerals (folate, selenium, and calcium), which seem to decrease the risk for colon cancer.

Proteins

3.  Eat 2-3 Servings of Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs & Nuts Daily

  • Researchers believe that too much animal protein seems to decrease blood enzymes that prevent precancerous cells from developing into tumors.

Fruits & Vegetables

4. It’s Also Recommended That You Consume 5-9 Servings of Fruits and Vegetables Daily. The Following Should be Included:

Fresh fruits such as ( pineapples, strawberries, blueberries) and more
Green and Dark Yellow Vegetables
Cruciferous Vegetables (Cauliflower, broccoli, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, and Kohlrabi)

       Why?

  • Vegetables contain a lot of beta-carotene ( a precursor to vitamin A) and vitamin C.
  • Most fruits and vegetables prevents cancer-causing hormones from locking onto cells.














Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tips on Selecting Healthier Foods

You shouldn’t only learn how to cook; you should also know what food to cook --- more importantly, what food items you should prepare based on their nutritional value.

Selecting foods based on their nutritional value can be a rather tough task, primarily because of two reasons. First, there are many food items out there to choose from, and of course the prices do vary. Secondly, the nutrients differ from one food item to another. Despite this sometimes daunting and time consuming task, shoppers should always make sure they get the best nutritional value for their money, not just a bargain.

When you are trying to decide on which supermarket you should shop, you should ask yourself this simple, yet very important question: Will I be able to get the best quality fruits, vegetables, and meats and a wide selection of foods? No doubt, this question should be sufficient to help you with your final decision.  

Last but not least, if you have a clear understanding or meaning of a few key terms, this can also help to make your food selection much easier. Once you are able to select the right food, ultimately, you will be able to make your diet healthier.  Below are several important terms you should know when shopping for food items:

Processed Food
·        Food cooked, frozen, or otherwise treated to preserve it for a period of time or to improve its taste
·        Often many of the nutrients, such as vitamins, normally found in foods are destroyed

Vitamin Enriched Food
·        Food prepared in attempt to make up for the vitamins that are destroyed when food are processed 
·        On occasion it contains supplement vitamins, or in other words, vitamins that are not naturally found in the food

Organically Grown Food  
·        Grown without the use of pesticides or fertilizers
·        Not much difference if any at all in the nutritional value, when compared to the inorganically grown food, but is free of additives and certain contaminants

Fat-Free Food
·        Must contain less than half a gram of fat per serving in compliance of FDA regulation

Low-Fat Food
·        Must contain three grams of fat or less per serving per FDA regulation

Light Food
·        Must have less than half the fat or at least one-third fewer calories than the regular version of the food

Lower, Reduced, or Less Fat Food
·        Required to contain 25 percent less fat than a regular version of the product or some other logical reference food

If you haven’t being doing so, it’s definitely not too late to get into the habit of reading food labels. Simply paying more attention to the list of ingredients that are included in each product, can help you to avoid or limit your intake of certain items such as sugar, sodium etc. With the exception of fresh meat, poultry, fish, and produce, all package foods must be labeled with the correct nutritional information. This is a requirement from the federal government. With this bit of knowledge, hopefully you will be spending less time trying to figure out the best place to shop and food items you should purchase or avoid, the next time you plan on going food shopping.





Monday, September 2, 2013

Welcome

Welcome to Our Kitchen Lab, a community blog where everyone can share, learn or explore new ideas  relating to cooking. The focus is not primarily on recipes, we will also be discussing the following:-

  • Great fresh herbs and spices to use in cooking
  • How to prepare herbs and spices and apply them to food for optimal flavor
  • The health benefits of consuming most herbs used for cooking
  • Some food additives that you should try to avoid or use minimally
  • Shopping for cookware sets and utensils - A beginner's guide
  • Tips for beginners or the less seasoned cooks
  • Basic measurements and calculations for beginners 
  • Common food related illness and precautions
  • Danger of grilling
  • Cancer prevention through the right RDA of foods
  • Methods of food preparation
  • Important and critical research findings
  • How to shop healthier
  • How to prepare healthier foods
  • Common food terminologies and definitions and more....

    As always, my motto is this:- If We Could Help Somebody As We Travel Along, Our Living Will Not Be In Vain!!