I hate to be a killjoy, but every year hundreds of thousands of Israelis pollute the land they love and themselves on Independence Day. It’s a tradition. Crowded into parks, backyards and every square meter of anything covered with grass, we sit breathing in serious lungdamaging fumes day and night, consuming vast quantities of poultry and livestock that, depending on the way they were prepared, contain highly carcinogenic chemicals.
Yes, it’s true. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, diets high in red meat, such as beef and lamb, and especially processed meats, such as hot dogs, may be a strong cause of colorectal cancer. When the fat from these foods drips on the hot coals, it creates the carcinogens associated with various other types of cancer as well.
So how can we have our “cake” and eat it too? First of all, consider grilling other healthier sources of protein, such as fish (which contains less fat than meat or poultry), chicken (remove the skin before eating) or tofu kebabs, and making the protein one-third of the meal, leaving two-thirds of the menu for salads or grilled vegetables and fruits, which do not produce the agents associated with cancer.
Another possibility is to partially cook meat or poultry indoors for a few minutes in the oven and finish it on the grill, cleaning the grill completely after each round to avoid transferring any potentially harmful chemicals to the next round you grill. Turn the food over frequently, to avoid charring, and cut off any black and charred bits before you serve.
Here’s how to avoid some of the other pitfalls: Do not purchase frozen meat, as it is notorious for having artificial food additives, fillers and added water to increase the weight that you pay for. If it’s ground meat, you can never be sure what parts went into it to make it.
Do not buy ready-made ground beef unless your butcher grinds it on the spot from fresh beef parts that you’ve selected.
Choose lean cuts.
Avoid ready-made kebabs, ready-made hamburgers and all types of hot dogs unless they are vegetarian or handmade by a quality butcher who won’t stick you with MSG in the best case, and nitrates and nitrites, saltpeter, artificial flavorings, colorings and preservatives in all other cases.
Do not make or purchase mayonnaise-based salads unless they are being served inside your home and straight from the refrigerator. Taking them on a picnic or leaving them out on your garden table can have serious consequences.
Marinating food also makes it safer to eat because marinating helps draw out the chemical precursors of carcinogens.
And leave the marshmallows in the store, as the charred parts should be avoided.
Here are a few interesting ideas for marinades from chef Shai Levenstein of Hagoshrim: Malon Bateva at Kibbutz Hagoshrim.
Rather than buy plastic plates, forks and knives that add tons of litter every year to the environment, I recommend using biodegradable plates, bowls and cutlery (usually from corn or bamboo) from the health food store.
Use for root vegetables, sweet potatoes, cauliflower sprigs and chicken.
✔ 4 Tbsp. (1⁄4 cup) chopped coriander
✔ 4 Tbsp. lemon juice (or lime juice in season)
✔ 2 Tbsp. dark sesame oil
✔ 4 Tbsp. corn oil
✔ 1 container coconut cream
✔ 1 small dried hot pepper, crushed
✔ 1 Tbsp. mango chutney (optional)
✔ Soy sauce, to taste
✔ 2 garlic cloves
✔ 2 Tbsp. honey
✔ Fresh ginger, salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
Put all ingredients in the blender or food processor. Marinate foods overnight.
Use for marinating eggplant slices, pepper halves, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli sprigs, corn on the cob, tofu and sea fish.
✔ 1 cup high-quality olive oil
✔ 4 garlic cloves
✔ 1 bunch basil
✔ 100 gr. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
✔ 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
✔ 1⁄2 cup parsley, chopped
✔ 50 gr. melted butter
✔ Salt, coarse black pepper and brown sugar, to taste
Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulverize till smooth. Marinate overnight.
Suitable for vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, portobello mushrooms and Tamar cherry tomatoes (the elongated ones), as well as tofu, entrecote and sirloin.
✔ 1 cup olive oil
✔ 4 garlic cloves
✔ 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
✔ 4 Tbsp. lemon juice
✔ 1 shallot, chopped
✔ 2 roasted peppers, peeled and chopped
✔ Silan (date syrup), apple cider vinegar, salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
Put olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, shallot and roasted peppers in a blender and process till smooth.
Season with silan, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Marinate several hours or overnight.
■ This is my last column in The Jerusalem Post. You can reach me at Phyllis’ Kitchen on Facebook or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recipes and Photos courtesy of chef Shai Loewinstein Hotel Hagoshrim