Summer is here. The smell of cut grass, grilled steaks, and burgers waft through the air. There is something about the scents of summer, the sound of peepers at night, and of course the taste of fresh seasonal produce.

Let’s not forget time working the grill.

Before I get into the discussion of grilling, here are some facts on the topic of red meat. There’s plenty of confusion regarding the health benefits or hazards of eating a food source we’ve been eating for millions of years: red meat.

Many studies, especially in the mainstream media, don’t make the distinction between grass-fed meat, conventional grain-fed meat, and processed meat. Usually, they are all lumped into the “red meat” category. 

Is grain-fed beef the same as grass-fed beef? You might as well ask is mountain spring water the same as city sewer water? 

All red meat is not the same. How can grain-fed, feedlot, stressed animals who are abused and living in unsanitary conditions have the same nutrient composition that free-range, grass-fed, stress-free animals have? 

Research is now drawing distinctions among the types of red meat, as well as bringing to light the health benefits of free-range, grass-fed beef. Regarding the nutritional profiles of the two different meats, grass-fed is superior in all components, including fatty acids, saturated fats, antioxidants, vitamins and, last but not least, flavor. 

Grilling is a traditional way to cook meat so it is safe for consumption.

While nothing beats a grass-fed burger grilled over low heat, there are potential health risks associated with meat cooked at high temperatures.

While the high heat kills bacteria and other food borne pathogens, it—high heat—causes the protein in meat to produce compounds called heterocyclic amines.

These compounds can be carcinogenic (cancer-causing) when the meat is burned, blackened, and charred. To combat the production of these nasty compounds, grill meats on low heat with frequent flipping so you don’t burn the meat.


Mother Nature has created anthocyanins, compounds in fruits and vegetables that neutralize heterocyclic amines. Anthocyanins are what make certain fruits and vegetables purple.

In fact, according to the Journal of Toxicological Sciences, anthocyanins in purple sweet potato and red cabbage neutralized the heterocyclic amines and their damaging effects in the gut. The good news is there are many ways to add purple fruits and vegetables to grilled meats in order to counteract the production of heterocyclic amines. 

The picture is a grass-fed burger cooked on low heat with this red cabbage relish spread over the top. It is unbelievably delicious!

Here’s the recipe:

RED CABBAGE, ONIONS, & ORANGES

Serves 4–6

Calories per serving: 148 for 4; 98 for 6

Ingredients

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced

Sea salt and pepper to taste

1 medium red cabbage, halved and thinly sliced

Juice and zest of 1 large orange

1 tablespoon fresh or dried tarragon

Directions

Cut up the red cabbage into thin shreds. Do the same with the onion.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add a little avocado oil or grapeseed oil, onions, salt, and pepper; cook for a few minutes. Add cabbage; salt to taste, and sauté for 10 minutes, or until the cabbage has cooked down. Stir often.

Once the cabbage has cooked down a bit, add the orange juice and tarragon. Stir well, lower heat, and cook for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

In the last minute of cooking, add orange zest and stir well. This is a good accompaniment for grilled meat. The antioxidant properties in the cabbage will help to offset the effects of char from the grill. 

Enjoy.

References:

Hagiwara A, Yoshino H, Ichihara T, et al., Prevention by natural food anthocyanins, purple sweet potato color and red cabbage color, of 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine-associated colorectal carcinogenesis in rats initiated with 1,2-dimethylhydrazine, The Journal of Toxicological Sciences, Vol.27, No.1,57-68, 2002

 

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