Healthy Grilling for the 4th of July


It’s a holiday weekend and many folks will be firing up the grill. Before you do, read this article from Dr. Joel Fuhrman and your backyard BBQ a healthy (and delicious) one.

Warmer weather and outdoor grilling often go hand-in-hand. Yet, research has shown that turning up the heat can cause potentially cancer-causing substances to form. Here are some ways to grill in the great outdoors while reducing your exposure to harmful substances.

  • Make vegetables your main attraction! If you have a grilling basket, fill it with your favorite sliced vegetables, or make vegetable skewers. Mushrooms, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and summer squash all combine well, but get creative with your top picks or seasonal harvests. Toss with a little water, balsamic vinegar, and some MatoZest or fresh or dried herbs such as basil, oregano or rosemary for a robust and nutritious dish. Try blending spices with walnuts and a bit of your favorite vinegar and brush it on the veggies frequently while grilling. If you are grilling any starchy vegetables you can soak or marinate them first in a water-vinegar mix to add to their water content to minimize the production of acrylamide, which is a cooking-related carcinogen formed when starches are cooked at high temperatures.1,2 Avoid eating the blackened portions of grilled vegetables, starchy or non-starchy.
  • Keep in mind that meats contain several harmful elements including animal protein, arachidonic acid and heme iron.4-7 When grilled or even cooked at high temperatures, carcinogenic compounds are also formed (see box).  Redefine the burger with bean or veggie burgers! Store-bought burgers often have added salt and concentrated soy protein, but you can make your own nutritious burgers. Try this recipe for Sunny Bean Burgers and toss them on the grill.
  •   As an alternative to burgers, serve up grilled portabella mushrooms (marinated in your favorite vinegar) and serve on a toasted whole grain pita with sliced tomato, raw onion and a pesto dressing made from basil, avocado and pine nuts.
  •   Grill corn on the cob in the husk or make party corn cobs by husking, spraying lightly with a mix of extra-virgin olive oil and water, and sprinkling with your favorite herbs. Place on the grill for 6-10 minutes, rotating frequently to minimize browning.
  •   When it comes to grilling, vegetables, mushroom and bean burgers are the safest choices. But for those who choose to grill and eat meat occasionally:
  • To minimize these harms, limit your portions consistent with a Nutritarian diet: Use only small amounts of meat mixed in with a bean burger and some mushrooms and onion. The phytates in the beans sop up the hydroxyl radicals and excess iron from the meat, reducing its toxicity. Also, anti-cancer foods like onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables may help the body detoxify some of the HCAs.8-11
  • Completely avoid processed meats, such as hot dogs and sausages. NOCs are potent carcinogens; there is convincing evidence that processed meats (and red meats) are a cause of colorectal cancers, and high intake of processed meat is also associated with heart disease, stroke and diabetes.12-15
Meat-related Carcinogens3
Formed in meats cooked at high temperatures

  • Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) – formed in hamburger, steak, chicken, and fish as a reaction between creatinine amino acids and glucose. Higher temperatures and longer cooking times increases HCA production
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – formed from flames and smoke; when meat juices drip and flame hits meat
  • N-nitroso compounds (NOCs) – formed in the stomach from nitrate/nitrite preservatives, found in processed meats


  1. Parzefall W: Minireview on the toxicity of dietary acrylamide. Food Chem Toxicol 2008;46:1360-1364.
    2. Hogervorst JG, Baars BJ, Schouten LJ, et al: The carcinogenicity of dietary acrylamide intake: a comparative discussion of epidemiological and experimental animal research. Crit Rev Toxicol 2010;40:485-512.
    3. National Cancer Institute. Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk. Accessed July 1, 2014.
    4. National Cancer Institute: Food Sources of Arachidonic Acid []
    5. de Lorgeril M, Salen P: New insights into the health effects of dietary saturated and omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. BMC Med 2012;10:50.
    6. Kaaks R: Nutrition, insulin, IGF-1 metabolism and cancer risk: a summary of epidemiological evidence. Novartis Found Symp 2004;262:247-260; discussion 260-268.
    7. Brewer GJ: Iron and copper toxicity in diseases of aging, particularly atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Exp Biol Med 2007;232:323-335.
    8. Murray S, Lake BG, Gray S, et al: Effect of cruciferous vegetable consumption on heterocyclic aromatic amine metabolism in man. Carcinogenesis 2001;22:1413-1420.
    9. Walters DG, Young PJ, Agus C, et al: Cruciferous vegetable consumption alters the metabolism of the dietary carcinogen 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) in humans. Carcinogenesis 2004;25:1659-1669.
    10. Kurzawa-Zegota M, Najafzadeh M, Baumgartner A, et al: The protective effect of the flavonoids on food-mutagen-induced DNA damage in peripheral blood lymphocytes from colon cancer patients. Food Chem Toxicol 2012;50:124-129.
    11. Wilson C, Aboyade-Cole A, Newell O, et al: Diallyl sulfide inhibits PhIP-induced DNA strand breaks in normal human breast epithelial cells. Oncol Rep 2007;17:807-811.
    12. Continuous Update Project. Colorectal Cancer Report 2010 Summary: Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer.: World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research; 2011.
    13. Chen GC, Lv DB, Pang Z, et al: Red and processed meat consumption and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Eur J Clin Nutr 2013;67:91-95.
    14. Micha R, Wallace SK, Mozaffarian D: Red and processed meat consumption and risk of incident coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Circulation 2010;121:2271-2283.
    15. John EM, Stern MC, Sinha R, et al: Meat Consumption, Cooking Practices, Meat Mutagens, and Risk of Prostate Cancer. Nutr Cancer 2011:1.

Eat Healthy & Thrive

Fall Salad with Fennel and Beets

Serves 8


  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. sea salt (optional)
  • ½ tsp. cracked black pepper
  • ½ tsp. ground fennel seed


  • 3 beets
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 5-6 oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 6 cups mixed greens, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives

To make Lemon Dressing: Whisk together all dressing ingredients in bowl or shake in jar. *This dressing contains no oil, so if you’d like it creamier or more substantial, throw all the above ingredient into the Vitamix with either 1/2 an avocado or a tomato.

Cook beets in boiling water 20 to 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with knife. Drain and cool. Cut off stem ends, peel. Cut beets into thin wedges. Toss beets with vinegar in bowl, cover, and chill.

Cut fennel in half lengthwise, and thinly slice each half.

Combine greens, radicchio, and red onion in a bowl and toss with 2-3 Tbsp. of dressing. Arrange on a large platter. Top with fennel and oranges, then beets and olives. Serve the remaining dressing on side.

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Butternut Squash & Pear Soup

(Adapted from Vegetarian Times)

Serves 6


  • 2-3 Tbsp. water
  • 2 medium leeks, finely chopped
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 cups low-sodium or no salt vegetable broth
  • 1 14-oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Pumpkin seeds for garnish, optional


1. In saucepan over medium-low heat, add leeks and water, and cook about 10 minutes, or until soft, stirring often.

2. Add squash and pears, and sauté 5 minutes. Stir in vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add salt, if desired. Simmer 20 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender.

3. Remove from heat, and stir in coconut milk. Purée soup in batches in blender or food processor, blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan, and stir in thyme. Reheat over medium-low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until warmed through. Season with salt and white pepper, if desired. Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

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Warm Salad with Millet and Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Walnuts

(Adapted from Vegetarian Times)

Serves 4

  • 1 1/4 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 Tbsp. EVOO or 2-3 Tbsp. of water or veg. broth
  • 3/4 cup millet
  • 2/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Toss Brussels sprouts with 1Tbsp. oil, shallots and garlic in large bowl, and season with salt, if desired. Arrange sprouts in single layer in 13-x9-inch baking dish. Roast 20 to 24 minutes, or until brown and tender, stirring once. Cool 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat large saucepan over medium heat. Add millet, and cook 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden. Add 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. (Important note: If the millet doesn’t fluff, it means you’ll need more water. Add a little extra to the pan if the allotted water is absorbed, but the grains are still in pellet form.)

3. Transfer millet to large bowl. Cool 5 minutes. Fold Brussels sprouts, walnuts, cranberries, and parsley into millet.

4. Whisk together vinegar, syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest in bowl. Stir into millet mixture, and season with salt & pepper if desired.
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Twice Baked Vegan Sweet Potatoes

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes (Vegan)

Makes: approx: 14 servings 

Try to buy everything organic.

  • 7 sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked and rinsed
  • 3 TBSP water
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup date sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP cold-pressed coconut oil (leave out if you are oil free)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Finely ground sea salt and pepper to taste (optional)


  •  Pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flaked coconut (optional)

Bake sweet potatoes at 350°F uncovered on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 40 minutes. Remove potatoes and allow to cool to a working temperature.

Carefully slice potatoes in half lengthwise. Leaving about 1/4″-1/2″ flesh attached to potato skin, scoop out the rest and place in food processor.

Place cashews, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and water in the blender and mix until creamy. Add cashew cream and remaining seasoning ingredients to food processor and whip until creamy. If you do not have a food processor, you can stir together filling by hand.

Fill your sweet potato shells with processed mixture. Top with pecans (and coconut if you wish) and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.

Once browned, remove and serve.

If there are any left, store in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat in the oven.

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