Grilling Tips @loselikeaman

Posted: August 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Grilling Tips from the Pros

Nine grill-master moves to make your next cookout tastier
Article By: Jeffery Lindenmuth
Grilling Tips from the Pros
Grilling is meant to be caveman-simple: Obtain meat, build fire, enjoy cheerful grunting all around. But if you want to advance your grilling game beyond its Pleistocene peak, try incorporating a few cool tricks.We asked grilling gurus to give us the easiest tiny flourishes and techniques that separate the pros from the rank amateurs.

 

Smoke, the easy way
Whether you choose charcoal or gas, authentic smoke flavor will benefit your grilled food, says Matt Goulding, coauthor of the best-selling Grill This, Not That!Smoker boxes are available in specialty stores, but all you really need is some wet wood chips wrapped in a packet of aluminum foil with holes poked in it to deliver a billow of smoke that packs big flavors and zero calories. Hickory and mesquite impart stronger flavors; apple and alder are more subtle. “You can also add flavors by putting fresh and dried herbs directly in the fire,” says Goulding. “Try rosemary sprigs with steak or thyme with pork or chicken.”

 

Use a brine to make juicy meat
Today’s leaner cuts of meat, like chicken breast, pork tenderloin and or turkey can be a recipe for tough, dried-out grill fare. According to Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible (www.BarbecueBible.com)and the new Best Ribs Ever, you can ensure maximum juiciness with a simple brine. Combine 1 quart of water, 1/4 cup of sea salt and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Soak pork and chicken in the brine for 1 to 2 hours, turkey breast for 4 hours. The salt reduces the toughness of the meat while allowing water to enter. “The result is meat is meat with maximum juiciness,” says Raichlen.

 

Always Take the Temp!

It’s amazing how few guys include a thermometer among their tools of the grilling trade, says Matt Goulding. “Pros keep a thermometer at hand to ensure their foods are both safe and juicy. Checking meat by slicing into it with a knife just lets all the juices pour out into the fire,” says Goulding. Always insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the cut. If you have an older thermometer, remember that the USDA has recently lowered the safe cooking temperature for pork to 145˚F.

Use lettuce instead of bread
Placing juicy meat on bread can add unsatisfying PointsPlus® values while reducing the flavors of grilled foods. “Follow the lead of Asian grill masters and serve small portions of intensely flavored meat, poultry, or seafood wrapped in lettuce leaves,” says Raichlen. Bibb lettuce, like that used to enjoy chunks of pulled pork topped with pickled vegetables at New York’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar, makes a pliable wrapper that adds crunch. Raichlen suggests serving a plate of these leaves to accompany sliced flank steak, cross-cut short ribs, chicken breast, or chicken meatballs

Get your steak in the mood
“The last thing you want to do is take a cold steak from the fridge and slap it on the grill,” says Tim Love, chef and owner of The Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth, Texas. By the time the outside sears, the interior is often overcooked and gray. Be sure to let your steak come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling, suggests Love. Next, brush it with peanut oil before adding salt, pepper and other seasonings. “The oil acts like an adhesive to help your seasonings stick. A lot of people sing the praises of olive oil, but peanut has great flavor and a higher smoke point, so it can withstand the heat of the grill,” says Love.

Don’t crowd the grate
Flame is the enemy, to be extinguished with a spray bottle before those flames start licking at your meat, turning it into carbon. Sometimes, however, not even a spray bottle can stop the conflagration. “When you are cooking meat with fat you are going to get flare-ups,” says Love. The time to make an evacuation plan is before problems start. “A common mistake is to have the entire grill packed with meat,” says Love. No matter which type of grill you use, leave an empty cool zone for any meats that get into a hot spot. You are always better off doing batches than crowding the grill grate.

Add a pan to the program
Another way to avoid flare-ups is to use a pan on top of the grill grate. Far from cheating, a pan is actually the preferred way to cook certain foods, ideal for shrimp and smaller vegetables when you don’t have skewers handy to prevent losing them through the grate. A pan will also make juicy plancha style burgers, especially when you are using leaner beef and need to retain some of the fat. Select a skillet designed for the grill or a cast-iron pan, which is nearly indestructible, advises Love.

Let the meat rest
You might be starving, but cutting into any meat right off the grill will lead to eventual disappointment, as the juices pour out onto the plate. According to Goulding, allowing meat to cool permits the muscle fibers to reabsorb and retain the juices. “Just like cooking time, resting time depends on the size of the meat,” he says. Burgers, chicken breasts and pork chops need about 5 minutes, while thick steaks will need 10. Larger cuts, like whole chickens, pork shoulder and brisket require 15 minutes.

Grill vegetables — for later
“Grilling is a great way to get people to eat their vegetables, or add some intense flavor to a side or salad,” says Love. Grilling a few select vegetables to add to your salad creates a nice contrast of crunchy and fresh versus smoky and flavorful. Love’s favorites include green scallions, cherry tomatoes, whole heads of cauliflower and pickles. You can even try giving whole heads of romaine lettuce a quick sear.

Grill fruit — for dessert
Those burning embers that remain after your steak is finished are good for more than just toasting marshmallows. Raichlen likes to add fresh summer fruit to the grill for dessert, caramelizing the sugars and concentrating the flavors. While au naturel fruits work fine, for a small splurge he suggests piercing quartered freestone peaches with cinnamon sticks and brushing them with melted butter before grilling. Pineapple spears are delicious dipped in light coconut milk and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Grill over medium-high heat for a few minutes and serve with frozen yogurt

Go Bananas!

Why we love’em and how to eat’em.
Article By: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
Go Bananas!
Bananas are so creamy, they’ve been called “nature’s cheesecake.” And now, under the PointsPlus® plan, that tropical wonder racks up a big zero. Would you pass up “free cheesecake”? It’s definitely time to go bananas!

Simple Things to Do With Bananas

Here are eight more easy choices you might not have thought of:

Banana Black Bean Dip. Bananas add a delicate sweetness to the classic dip. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and cook 1/4 cup minced red onion and 1 teaspoon minced garlic, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add 1 banana, peeled and sliced; stir 2 minutes over the heat. Add 1 cup drained and rinsed canned black beans, 1/2 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, then pour into a large food processor or blender and whir until smooth.

Banana Batido. This puréed drink is a favorite quencher from street carts. Put 1 ripe, peeled banana, 1 cup lowfat milk, 1/2 cup diced, peeled, mango or kiwi, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 4 ice cubes in a blender. Snap on the top and blend until smooth.

Baked Bananas. What a dessert — especially when topped with frozen vanilla yogurt! Plan on 1 banana per serving. For each, peel and split the fruit lengthwise. Put it on a piece of foil, add a couple of teaspoons of apricot jam and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. Fold the foil closed and seal it tight around the edges. Bake on a baking sheet in a preheated 400F oven for 15 minutes.

Easy Banana Pudding. No need to even turn on the stove with this simple, high-protein dessert! Process 1 pound silken tofu, 2 peeled ripe bananas, 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a food processor until creamy, scraping down the inside of the canister a couple of times. Spoon mixture into bowls and chill for at least 2 hours.

All bananas are not created equal
Well, as far as PointsPlus values go, they’re all equal: the big zilch. But there are many varieties that show up in our supermarkets. Here are four of the best:

Cavendish. The standard, long, thin, yellow banana, quite creamy when ripe.

Burro. A squat, thick, yellow banana with very silky flesh and a mild, lemony tang.

Niño. A small, 3-inch-long, Ecuadorian banana, the best choice for sautéing and deep-frying because of its firm, aromatic flesh.

Red. A stubby or slender banana with deep-red skin and beige flesh. This one will keep the longest at room temperature — up to three weeks.

Bring on the spots
How do you know if a banana is ripe? Unpeeled, it’s not pure, highlighter yellow. Instead, it has several dark-brown or black spots.

The best banana for baking is riper still. It’s brown all over with distinctly soft spots. There may even be a few fruit flies buzzing around.

However, if a banana is watery when peeled or has a fermented odor, it’s gone too far and is ready for the compost bin.

Myth: Never put a banana in the fridge
You think the one on your counter has never been refrigerated? Ha! On its way to you, it’s been kept in cold storage.

But not as cold as your refrigerator. Once you put it in there, the peel starts to go black. The cold temperature causes the skin’s ripening chemicals to go into overdrive. But we’re talking aesthetics here, not taste.

In fact, the internal enzymes that snap starches into sugars to sweeten the fruit actually slow down in the chill. The banana flesh inside stops ripening.

To put it simply: At room temperature, the banana flesh gets softer more quickly but the peel stays lightly colored; in the fridge, the banana peel gets darker more quickly but the flesh stays firmer longer.

Let’s also give a shout-out to a corollary that howls around the internet every once in a while: that putting bananas in the fridge turns them poisonous.

If cold bananas were lethal, everyone would have dropped dead from eating your Aunt Sally’s gelled salad, that quivering dome with the banana slices in it. Or from eating her banana cream pie. Or her banana pudding. Those things have been in the fridge for days. Aunt Sally works ahead. Days ahead. Nobody’s ever dropped dead because of her cold bananas. Because of her cooking? That’s another story.

A Guy’s Guide to Slow Cookers

When you walk in the door, dinner’s ready. What could be better?
Article By: Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
A Guy’s Guide to Slow Cookers
A slow cooker — sometimes called a “Crock-Pot,” although that’s a brand name — can be your secret weapon in the kitchen.

You fill it in the a.m. with the makings of chili, stew, or even pulled pork — then head off to work.

When you walk in the door, dinner’s ready. What could be better?

In their early days, every slow cooker was basically the same — not many bells and whistles. These days, it’s a sophisticated gadget.

Here are the four features to look for, along with some product recommendations that will help you get the most bang for your buck.

Slow cooker

 

Durability
A slow cooker’s meant to last. Problem is, most are built with crockery inserts — which can chip and break.

If you’re hard on your appliances or know you’ll be stacking a slow cooker among other pots, check out the All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker It’s got a nonstick metal insert. Even the lid is stainless steel. No chips or breaks there, either.

 

What’s more, this baby’s two pots in one. That sturdy insert can even go right on a stovetop burner. You can brown a piece of meat or some veggies before it starts its slow simmer—or you can boil down a sauce after the dish is done.

slow cooker

 

Size
Slow cookers range from 1½ -quart gadgets to 8-quart behemoths.

Standard recipes call for a 5- to 6-quart model. That said, you may not need 8 to 10 servings of stew. You probably want dinner tonight, with an additional serving for a friend, and maybe a leftover serving or two for the days ahead.

You can’t just cut a standard recipe in half in a bigger slow cooker. The appliance needs to be filled at least halfway for even cooking.

 

There are smaller slow cookers on the market — like Essenergy Inc’s VitaClay VF7900-4 Chef Gourmet Rice N’ Slow Cooker Pro.

This is an 8-cup clay pot within a slow cooker, so you get the benefits of cooking in clay (moisture and steam retention) with an easy-to-use slow cooker.

The cooking time can also be calibrated in 10-minute increments. That means better control for small batches.

 

Plus, the VitaClay is a rice cooker as well as a slow cooker — two appliances in one. That’s a lot of functions for a small appliance.

Slow Cooker

 

Multiple settings
Most slow cookers have two settings: low and high.

But you’re a guy. You love gadgets. You know there’s got to be more to finesse than low and high.

The KitchenAid KSC700SS 7-Quart Slow Cooker has five settings: buffet, simmer, low, high, and auto, plus a “warm” setting the cooker will automatically jump to once the meal’s ready. “Auto” starts the cooker on high and then drops it to low after two hours, a way to get things going and then slow them down for better flavor.

 

It’s got another cool gadget: a food-temperature sensor that alerts you if your meal drops below the USDA safe point due to temporary power outage or some other unforeseen accident.

Slow cooker

 

4. Temperature Control
A slow cooker must hold an even, steady temperature over a long time.

All the models we’ve described do a grand job. But if you’re going to cook big hunks of meat in your slow cooker — a ham, a pork loin, a brisket — you’ll want to make sure the meat itself is also done to the right internal temperature. After all, you’d use an instant-read meat thermometer for those cuts when they’re on the grill.

 

The Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker is the only slow cooker with a temperature probe that threads through a rubber gasket in the lid to poke into the meat and measure its internal temperature as it cooks. You can even program the machine to take the meat to the right, safe, internal temperature, then hold it there in “warm” mode until you’re ready for dinner.

 

So there’s what you need to know, with some specific buying recommendations. Now you can get the model that fits your lifestyle. Imagine: a hot dinner waiting for you when you get home from work. Not too shabby.

As I was thinking about what to write today, planning kept coming into my mind.  I plan every morning what I am going to eat for each and every meal.

Piss Poor Planning Prevents Proper Performance!  This was something that my Dad instilled in me with baseball as I grew up.  It transfers into everyday life especially weight loss.

Planning is great because it allows me to “bank” points if I want to eat a meal that is not healthy at night.  I can eat light meals throughout the day and then get after it at dinner and not feel bad about it.

I already know that I have bananas and grapes and 2 weight watchers bars for snacks, so this allows me to coast throughout the day and not feel the hunger pains!

Write out your food schedule every morning and carry it in your pocket or track it on a spreadsheet.  It is amazing the amount of food that humans eat and tracking it will make you aware of why you can’t lose weight.  Believe me, I have done it.

Hope this is useful.

Cool Barbecue Tools

Check out these 10 gadgets to help get you grilling like a pro.
Article By: Jason Carpenter
Cool Barbecue Tools
Whoever thought barbecuing is best kept low-tech and simple never burned a $20 porterhouse steak or spent a half-hour trying to clean a fossilized grill grate.

These 10 gadgets, tools and accessories can reduce labor and guesswork, and increase your grilling versatility. All are available in home or cooking stores or directly from their manufacturers.

Prices and availability may vary.

 
Mesh Shaker Basket

 

If you’ve ever grilled up veggies over a fire and accidentally let slices slip through the griddles, then you know how frustrating it can be to try and fish them out using a fork. This stainless steel mesh basket has a locking lid so you’re free to toss up a low PointPlus value storm.

$35, surlatable.com

 
 
Smokin Barbecue

 

If you’re pursuing a higher mastery of smoked ribs, chicken or brisket, then invest in one of these Bradley digital smokers. About the size of a mini-fridge, it’s completely self-contained and produces up to 8 hours of continuous clean smoke. The digital temperature controls allow hot or cold smoking, and it will even work as a slow cooker/roaster, and dry fruit. With four racks and more than 200 cubic inches of cooking space, you’ll be able to smoke enough food for the season in one shot.

$499 , bradleysmoker.com

 
 
Wireless Thermometer

 

Instead of cooking yourself in the summer sun as you monitor your meat, just pop in one of the sensors of the Maverick remote thermometer and head for the shade. Punch in your desired setting and this remote gadget (with a range of up to 100 feet) will sound an alarm when the food is done. Also works in the oven.

$80, maverickhousewares.com

 
 
Digital Pocket Thermometer

 

If the Maverick wireless thermometer is the Cadillac of grilling thermometers then this pocket sized one is the Vespa. The 6½ inch Weber thermometer has a protective sleeve with a clip for carrying in a pocket and a simple 3 push-button control system.

$15, amazon.com

 
 
Solar Powered Grill Light

 

This cordless solar panel light will save you from burning those burgers, when you’re jonesing for a late-night fix. It has an 18-inch bending neck and clips onto your grill with a spring clamp. And since it runs on Ni-Cad batteries (included), a charge from the sun can last up to four hours.

$70, maverickhousewares.com

 
 
Motorized Grill Brush

 

Don’t use elbow grease to scrape gunk off the grill. This motorized grill brush from Brookstone sports push-button steam cleaning to loosen even the stickiest residue. The hefty handle also makes it easy to control, while the dual brass bristles work their magic on that cheesy runoff.

$30, brookstone.com

 
 
Charcoal Chimney Starter

 

You’ve probably had a few headaches lighting coals. How may briquettes should you use? How long do you have to wait until those coals are the perfect cooking temperature? The Rapidfire Chimney Starter from Weber ignites briquettes safely, quickly and evenly. The aluminized-steel cylinder holds the perfect number of coals for a 57cm barbecue — all you have to do is place your chosen fire-starter under the bottom coils, light it up and release the glowing briquettes. You won’t even get your hands dirty.

$18, store.webber.com

 
 
Cast Iron Grill Humidifier

 

If your BBQ priority is keeping food moist and juicy, you could use a good humidifier like this model from Charcoal Companion. The two cast-iron boxes can hold water, beer, wine or whatever other flavor-lending liquid you can concoct. As they heat, up steam is released, giving your grill-top grub extra tenderness and taste.

$15, surlatable.com

 
 
Cordless Cooker

 

Just because grills are not friendly to chili, stews, soups and even black beans doesn’t mean you’ve got to banish them from your cookout or tailgating party. The propane-powered Coleman Heat ’n Serve Slow Cooker can handle them all—and keep the macaroni and cheese hot—miles from a wall plug.

$35, coleman.com

 
 
Skewers with Style

 

To add rustic style to your kebabs, use these Cast Iron Twig Skewers from Uncommon Goods. The little branch nubs will prevent food from sliding off, and the non-stick metal conducts heat evenly to cook meat and vegetables in the center.

$30 for a set of 8, uncommongoods.com

 
 
About the Writer
Jason Carpenter is a contributing writer for WeightWatchers.com.

Great weekend.  Congrats to my good bud Andrew on tying the knot to his bride Ann.  Great time in Ludington Michigan this weekend.

Great times = Bad decisions with food choices.  I took the approach that I was going to eat what I wanted and get back on plan when I got home, and I did exactly that 🙂

As long as you have the desire to get back on track after eating terrible for a few days, then you are all good!

Have a great week everyone

Do Weight-Loss Apps Help Us Diet?

By Susan E. Matthews, staff writer, MyHealthNewsDaily | LiveScience.com – 16 hrs ago

 

RELATED CONTENT

  • Lose It! allows you to track and share your diet and exercise.Enlarge PhotoLose It! allows you to track and share your diet and exercise.

A recent Verizon commercial shows a father trying to lose weight for his daughter’s wedding.

As he stands in line at a food cart to place his lunch order, he looks at his phone, which displays the high calorie content of the burger, and swaps his order for a salad.

At the end of the 30-second montage of exercise routines and healthy snacks, he fits slimly into his tux, and his daughter proudly hugs him.

Everyone loves a happy ending. But do we really need our phones to tell us that a salad is healthier than a burger?

While most people know the healthy merits of salads and the caloric pitfalls of burgers, we actually do benefit from weight-loss apps that remind us. That’s because the best way to lose weight is keeping track of the calories we consume, and apps make that easy, according to Karen Grothe, a psychologist at the Mayo Clinic who specializes in obesity and physical fitness. Grothe said apps have helped many of her patients lose weight.

Apps keep track of food intake better than most people could on their own. They eliminate the need to carry around information regarding meals’ calorie content or paper and pen, which could be stigmatizing, Grothe said.

If you want to lose weight, “you could hire a registered dietician to sit around with you,” and monitor every meal, joked Andrew Rosenthal, chief strategy officer for iPhone app The Eatery. But, in Rosenthal’s words, “that’s really expensive and socially awkward.”

The Eatery app allows users to snap and upload photos of their food to share with other users. They comment on how healthy the meal is, and when there’s a consensus, the result is posted. (It’s usually very accurate, the team says.) This helps users make better food choices by learning from each other to assess food options more accurately. The Eatery is not just for people who are trying to lose weight. Many aim to eat more veggies, limit fats or go organic, for example.

[See “6 Apps to Guide Your Grocery-Shopping“]

While users are submitting this information to manage their own meals, The Eatery has been collecting anonymized data from the submissions and is hoping to analyze the 10 million photos of food they’ve accumulated. The goal is to figure out the triggers that make people’s diets go off track, Rosenthal said. Then, based on this information, the app could warn people when they might be more likely to make a bad decision, such as a late-night pizza.

[See “9 Meal Schedules: When to Eat to Lose Weight“]

Another benefit of these apps is their social function: Trying to lose weight with other people proves to be easier, Grothe said. “Realizing that you are not alone in your struggles to manage weight can be comforting, and patients can learn from other people’s experiences,” she said. Using online-based tools also helps relieve any social stigma or tension people often feel about discussing their weight in person.

Lose It!, one of the most popular calorie-counting apps (for Android and iOS), allows users to connect with people they know as well as with strangers over the app and its many discussion forums. People can choose how much information to share, and with whom.

According to the Lose It! website, users have collectively shed more than 11 million pounds, and 96 percent of active users lose weight. People can log on both through the app and the website to manage their information. Connecting with friends provides support and encourages sharing of ideas, like recipes and exercise routines.

This story was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience.

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