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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE May 30, 2002

Doctors Release Tips for Healthy, Hearty Summer Barbecue

Slim Down and Get Healthy with New Veggie Recipes for the Grill and Picnic Basket

WASHINGTON—This barbecue season, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) suggests an updated, satisfying, and healthful menu—a vegetarian one. Nutrition experts recommend Americans try more vegetarian dishes as a way to avoid the hazards of flame-broiled meat, which include the formation of carcinogens (heterocyclic amines) from overcooking or deadly bacteria from undercooking. There are many healthful and great-tasting alternatives—veggie burgers, “not dogs,” grilled polenta, vegetable brochettes, and other favorites.

“Great-tasting vegetarian items on the grill and in the picnic basket will help Americans get healthy and feel more energetic for summer activities,” states Jen Keller, R.D., PCRM's staff dietitian. “The whopping dose of fat and cholesterol found in chicken, red meats, and fish packs on the extra pounds and increases cholesterol levels contributing to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and impotence.”

Tips for a Healthy, Hearty Summer Barbecue

  • In light of all the new studies showing that plant foods contain disease-preventing compounds including fiber, antioxidants, and cancer-fighting phytochemicals, make it vegetarian. Switch out the meats for ready prepared veggie burgers or "not dogs." Grill vegetables, portabella mushrooms, tofu, and polenta.
  • Avoid the carcinogens (called heterocyclic amines) that are formed when animal protein is heated up on the barbecue, by grilling vegetables, tempeh, or other plant foods instead. By doing so, you'll reduce your risk of several types of cancer, including non-Hodgkins lymphoma, breast, and colon cancer.
  • For a meaty flavor without the saturated fat and cholesterol, try dressing bite-sized pieces of button or other mushrooms in a ginger teriyaki sauce, wrapping them in a foil package, then cooking them on the grill for about ten minutes.
  • Update your potato or macaroni salad by preparing it with a vinaigrette or try an egg-free mayonnaise.
  • Skip the deviled eggs. Instead, serve tasty dips such as guacamole, salsa, or hummus with fresh-cut vegetables and baked tortilla chips.
  • Baked beans are a hearty and delicious addition to a barbecue menu. Buy vegetarian beans (without the lard or pork fat) and add lower-fat veggie hotdogs if you want franks and beans.
  • Keep your family and guests safe from foodborne illness by avoiding all meats and eggs. BBQ chicken, potato salad, and other foods containing animal products left on the picnic table in the sun for several hours are responsible for thousands of cases of foodborne illness each summer.

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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