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Summertime Cooking, The Healthy Way with Elaine Magee, RD

Enjoy the joys of summer -- and stay healthy too!

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Member question: Just how much cancer risk is there when you grill meats?

Magee: That's a hard one to answer. Do I still grill meat? Yeah, I do, once a week or so. Have your grilled meat with lots of fruits and vegetables. That way you're getting plenty of antioxidants at the same time. And if you start off with a lean meat you will get less fat dripping off and fewer carcinogens making their way back to the meat. Also, if you cook with indirect heat you minimize that risk because the flame isn't in contact with the meat.

Member question: I have a great Middle Eastern flavored marinade I use on the grill for kabobs, but it calls for a half-cup of oil. That seems like a lot. Just how much can I cut back on the oil to lighten up the marinade? Or is the type of oil I use more important than the amount?

Magee: With half a cup of oil, I would probably try to cut that back to a quarter cup at first and see if that seems to work. I would then try 3 tablespoons or so. I probably wouldn't go lower than 3 tablespoons, and I would definitely switch to a smarter-fat oil, such as canola oil or olive oil. Now, which one to choose, olive oil or canola oil? That would depend on whether or not you wanted the taste of olive oil, because canola oil has a neutral taste. But to answer your question about which is most important I would say both. I would say using less oil and using a better oil.

Moderator: How much attention should be paid to the sauces we put on grilled meat? My barbeque sauce recipe calls for butter, among many other ingredients.

Magee: I think it depends on how much sauce you are getting. If it's a little bit of sauce and the sauce has a little bit of butter I may not worry about that, but if you really are consuming a large amount of sauce, then it might behoove you to switch the butter to something else like canola oil in your sauce recipe. You could also probably use less, too. I wouldn't even think you would need to add anything in place of it; you could probably just get away with using a little less in the recipe.

Member question: I'm not a cold food lover, but using the oven in our St. Louis heat is no fun. Is there anything appetizing and healthy that can be cooked in the microwave? Seems no one actually cooks with the mike anymore -- just defrosting and reheating.

Magee: I personally don't like cooking meat in the microwave, because it eliminates the browning that takes place on the stove, and many of the flavors we enjoy come from browning. But I think it would be possible to do rice dishes with the microwave. Or a raspberry vinaigrette type poached fish in the microwave. I use the microwave constantly for vegetables. Another trick for summer is to make spaghetti sauce or lasagna and that type of things and freeze portions.

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