It’s summertime, which means plenty of time spent outside at the grill. But barbecuing can be bad news for your health. Charred meat contains carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These molecules cause aging and mitochondrial dysfunction, which can lead to all kinds of serious health issues like cardiovascular disease and cancer. I’m going to teach you how to hack your BBQ, so you get all the flavor, and a lot less of the health problems that come from smoking and charring meat. Read on for the Bulletproof guide to making your next BBQ the healthiest it can be.
Components of a healthy BBQ
Herbs can protect the fat on the meat from being oxidized (aka damaged). The most important one is rosemary. In multiple studies, rosemary is shown to limit lipid oxidation. If you put rosemary in your marinade, and you expose your marinated meat to oxidized fats coming off those amazing coals, you reduce your risk of inflammation as a result. Add some oregano and thyme — they’re full of antioxidants.
The kind of oil you use matters. The oil forms a kind of barrier that protects against lipid peroxidation (when fats are damaged). If you know you’re going to be cooking at moderate temperature, Brain Octane oil (a purified form of MCT oil) works. Brain Octane is stable until 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Olive oil is not ideal since it’s easily damaged when heated, and I don’t recommend cooking with it. However, a lot of people are going to be doing it anyway. Choose a high-end olive oil, which tends to be higher in antioxidants.
Bulletproof’s grass-fed ghee is ideal, but there’s an issue — it’s not liquid. So you can heat the ghee up to melt it. It works very well and it has a mild taste. You can mix the herbs in it and rub it into the meat.
Always choose grass-fed beef over factory-farmed meat. Eating industrially-raised meat carries a lot of problems: it’s unethical, it’s bad for the soil, it’s bad for your gut bacteria, it’s bad for the animals — everybody loses. Cows that are free to roam and eat grass are happier and healthier, and at Bulletproof we care about animal welfare. Grass-fed beef is also more nutritious — it’s higher in omega-3’s, antioxidants, and nutrients. Learn more about the benefits of grass-fed beef here. You can now order a box of grass-fed meat from companies like Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative, delivered straight to your door. Go grass-fed, or go home.
Note: I use a charcoal grill, but you can use gas.
- Mix herbs and oil/ghee. Pour 2-3 tablespoons (depending on the size of your meat) of oil or ghee onto the herbs. Then mash up the herb and oil mixture with a spoon. When you mix it up, you infuse the oil with antioxidants and the fat-soluble compounds. When you do it right, the oil actually takes on a bit of a green tinge. You can marinate your meat in the herbs and oil for a few hours before grilling.
- Spoon the mixture over the meat and use your hands to massage it in. Sprinkle Himalayan salt over it, or use smoked salt. Smoked salt gives you all of the rich smokey flavor without the harmful compounds that come from charring your meat.
- Use a griddle pan. You might be tempted to throw the meat over an open grill and have the flames lick the meat. But it’s simply not good for you, since you want to avoid having the fat and protein drip onto the hot coals. Instead, use a griddle pan to avoid charringyour meat.
- Turn the meat over when it easily lets go of the pan (versus sticking to it). Grill your meat until it’s just barely browned, and not charred. Doing so seals in the flavor while keeping toxin formation at a minimum. Aim for rare to medium-rare on the inside.
- Garnish with fresh chopped herbs and tuck in!
Read next: Bulletproof Cooking Techniques