Smoking is an ancient culinary technique that can give your dishes a unique flavor – that can be quite addictive.

From pork meat to chicken meat to vegetables, there are a lot of amazing recipes you can try and explore with smoking. But more than just its unmatchable taste, smoking entails an exciting cooking process. Every time you cook, you’ll always be surprised at what comes out of your smoker.

I love to experiment on different kinds of pellets, woods, or charcoals; each of these materials adds a unique taste on your recipe. The duration of smoking also has a distinct effect on the recipe. For instance, quick smoking would give the dish mild smokiness while slow cooking would make it more flavorful. Every smoked dish would be entirely unique which makes it really interesting.

The intricacy of smoking and grilling has always fascinated me. In fact, it has become my stress reliever. With my pellet smoker, I’m able to create and discover distinct smoked recipes. Every now and then, I invite some friends to my backyard or to camp out in the woods and try out some of my grills and steak; of course, with cold beer. After a few bites, they go raving about it.

But as much as I would love to indulge on “burnt food,” I also know that smoked dishes entail health concerns. Some health experts have pointed out that some chemical reactions in smoking could be potentially harmful to health.  According to some studies, steak, grilled, or smoked foods contain carcinogenic compounds that can cause cancer over time.

Healthy smoked recipes, is it possible?

Yes, it is! With healthy grill recipes and proper cooking techniques, smoked foods can be healthier and safer for your body. In some ways, it can even be a healthier cooking technique. For example, when you smoke vegetables, the nutrients are retained compared to boiling them. You can cut on extra fats or oils when you smoke foods instead of frying them. Smoking allows fat from meat to drip off.

Tips to healthy smoking and grilling

If you are addicted to smoking, you can try these tips to make your smoked recipes healthier.

Add healthy ingredients

Whether you’re using a pellet smoker or a charcoal smoker, you can cook anything in it. That being said, you can add healthy ingredients in your next recipes.

Don’t just cook meat. Add vegetables, and even fruits, into your recipe. Grilled vegetables result in surprisingly delicious dishes. Some of my favorite healthy ingredients include mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, onions, broccoli, potatoes, and eggplant. Instead of carbohydrate-laden bread, you can try fresh veggies, corn or potato as side dish to your steak. My friends love this combo!

Avoid burning the meat

Crisp, charred meat taste good. But sad to say, burnt or carbonized meat is considered unhealthy. Studies show that it contains carcinogenic compounds that can lead to cancer. As such, it is best to avoid over burning meat. To do this, make sure to read your smoker’s instruction manual so you can estimate how long the food should stay inside the smoker.

Another tip is to remove as much fat as possible from the meat. This helps avoid flares that can burn meat. Once the fat is cooked, oil can drip onto the charcoal and cause it to flare up, thereby, burning the meat.

Choose less fatty meat products

Minimize the fat content of your smoked recipes by using less fatty meat products or cuts. Some healthy alternatives include chicken, lamb, duck, liver, fish, and ham. If you can’t get over the temptation of beef, go with the leanest cuts of such as sirloin tip, top round, top sirloin, flap steak, porterhouse steak, among others.

I’ve tried shrimp and fish on the smoker and they are incredibly delicious. Marinate them in a concoction of lemon sauce, herbs, and spices, and you’ll surely get a perfect recipe. Vegetables, such as potato, tomatoes, and corn, are also a good alternative to smoked meat.

Cut your serving

Avoid overstuffing yourself with meat. Cut the servings and arrange them into smaller plates. When you put your food in smaller plates, you tend to eat less but still feel full. You’d be thinking that you’ve eaten a lot since you’ve consumed everything in your plate.

Aside from minimizing your intake, reducing the serving size shortens the cooking time. As a result, less smoke gets into your food. Just don’t forget to cut the cooking time accordingly to avoid charring the meat.

Marinade the meat

Marinating makes the meat taste fuller, at the same time, prevents overcooking. I love to experiment on the marinade sauce. I frequently use vinegar, tomato sauce, and other spices and herbs. Just add all of the ingredients in the bowl, toss in the meat, and make sure that the meat is fully covered. Let it stand for a few hours. I prefer marinating the meat overnight to let the juices seep into it.

The perfect marinade should contain enough acidity plus spices, herbs, and a little bit of oil. I prefer homemade sauces over the commercial sauce because they tend to be high in salt. Try creating your own marinate and you’ll be surprised by the outcome.

It is said that marinating the meat minimizes the possibility of carcinogens by three-fold. The marinade tends to coat the meat, thereby preventing it from overcooking and burning.

Final thoughts

Enjoying the unique flavor of smoked dishes doesn’t have to unhealthy. With a bit of experimentation and creativity, you can enjoy a sumptuous dinner, without dreading about its unhealthy effects. Aside from these tips, choosing the right smoker type can also help make your dishes healthier. For example, a gas grill proves healthier than charcoal. There are numerous options at SmokeySteakRanch that you can choose from.

Smoked foods may be sinful, but at the same time, they’re addictive and irresistible. On your next grill, try out these tips so you can enjoy your smoked recipes without guilt!