Friday, July 29, 2011

No time to excercise? Here’s a surprising way to produce growth hormone, and lose fat and increase muscle in the process

I haven’t gone to the gym in years.  With a growing family and a full time job, I just really didn’t have the time nor the money.  But lately, whenever I come across people who I haven’t seen in quite a while, just about all of them give me the same response:  “Have you been working out lately?  You’ve gotten bigger/fitter.” 

It puzzled me a bit that I get that kind of a response.  But then, a light bulb lit, and I suddenly remember a series of articles that I read in one of my favorite health and wellness sites.  These articles told of a surprising way to produce growth hormone, and when you do this, fat loss and increased muscle mass is the result. The method the article focused on is gold, especially to those of us who have no time to exercise.

Before what I tell you what the articles contained, I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing every morning:  I walk my dog.  More accurately, Shrek, a really big and active fur ball, runs me…to the ground.  

The usual routine every morning is that we would burst out our front gate with both of us running at full sprint.  Not walking.  Not jogging.  Full sprint.  We’d keep this up for about several seconds and about half the street’s length.  He’d then stop and find a good place or two to sniff around and do his business, then after several seconds of that, we’d break out into a sprint once again to the next spot.  So my exercise and dog walking program consists of several periods of intense activity followed by rest.  In case you’re wondering, the subdivision we live in has lots of vacant lots, so there wouldn’t be any angry neighbors with poop filled lawns.

What does this have to do with producing growth hormone?  Well, the articles talk about high intensity interval training, which is just like what I described: periods of intense activitiy, the most you can do before getting out of breath, then periods of rest.  The site’s name for their particular program is Peak 8, meaning eight intervals of this routine, which in turn is based on the author’s interview and collaboration with fitness author Phil Campbell, who wrote Ready, Set, GO!

This practice will give you one heck of a workout for far less time you’d spend jogging or doing other cardio, which is awesome for guys like me who don’t have a lot of free time juggling our responsibilities of being dads, husbands, and bringing home the bacon.

Better yet, this kind of high intensity interval training naturally increases your body’s production of growth hormone.  The website I found the info from says that high intensity training engages the super-fast muscle fibers, which are the main ones responsible for the growth hormone production.  This, in turn decreases body fat, improves your muscle tone, and helps you reach your fitness goals much faster, among many other benefits.

So, I guess walking my dog has great payoffs.  I mean, who wouldn’t want, in your effort to have a poop-free lawn, increased growth hormone production, leading to less fat and increased muscle mass?  Plus, you get it done in less time to boot.  Now that people are noticing, maybe this is my cue to start hitting the weights again, after oh so long.   

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

RIP Amy Winehouse

While vacationing with my newly returned wife earlier in the week (more on that on another blog entry) I saw on the news that Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London home.  My knee jerk reaction to sudden deaths, especially sudden deaths of celebrities was jaw-dropping shock, and then sadness.

She was famous for her excellent voice and people from many age groups liked her work, which is pretty amazing since most adults abhor what the kids listen to nowadays.  Her popularity also put British music back on the map, and many musicians from her shores capitalized on the house that Amy built.  In the age of autotune, Amy Winehouse was considered a real talent, a breath of fresh air, and her death was a great loss for music fans.

But then again, sadness turned to something like “she had this coming.”  Indeed, her considerable musical gifts have been eclipsed by stories of her being drunk and stoned to kingdom come, stories of violence (be it self-inflicted or inflicted on others), and raucous behavior in general.  Even her parents thought that her life would be a short one, and indeed, here we are, mourning her passing.  It’s irresponsible to say that she died of a drug overdose when the jury is still out on the cause of her death, but it’s pretty easy to assume her lifestyle played a role in her demise.

In this blog, I always try to put life lessons that all of us can apply, regardless of the topic.  So what can we learn from the tragedy of a supremely talented, yet troubled life ending way too soon?  Well, one main thing.

There’s an adage that goes, “No amount of success can compensate for failure in the home.”  Here, we can modify “home” to mean the formation of one’s person.

Proof of this is what I said earlier, how Amy Winehouse is more famous for her misbehaviour than for her five grammy award winning talent.  You can also think of what most of the press and people in general thought of the awesome Michael Jackson before he died.  How about another Mike, supremely talented, yet known more for misbehaving: Mike Tyson?  Then there’s scandals involving Tiger Woods, the Governator, nearly all Hollywood child stars…I can go on and on, but you get the picture.

Of course, I’m not putting the blame on Amy’s parents for what she has become; but, since this blog site is on parenting, a good take-home for parents here is that no matter how gifted your child is at something, focus also on the kid having a balanced life.

Jesus’ adolescent development is a great example of this.  There’s only one verse in the Bible that talks about Jesus’ teenage years, but we can already get a lot out of it.

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)

According to the verse, Jesus grew:

“in wisdom” – intellectually

“and stature”—physically

“in favour with God” – spiritually

“and man”—socially (including emotionally)

That’s a pretty good benchmark in how someone should grow.  If you look at a chair, it usually has four legs.  Cut one of those legs off, or have it made of extremely weak material like Styrofoam, and it won’t be able to do its job.  Just a little bit of weight and down you go!

Focus on developing a whole child, and when you do so, he or she can be more equipped to resist many of the temptations from the media, from peers, whatever.   Then, if the child shows particular aptitude at something, by all means encourage the child to pursue excellence in it…but make sure venues are given to develop the child as a whole.

Children with fantastic intellect yet no social skills or are very physically unfit will not reach their full potential.  Ditto with those who are physically gifted yet do not pay attention to their academics or in other areas.  And if one lacks spiritual and social development, he or she would be more susceptible to the world’s ills.

You can’t focus on just one of the chair’s legs and expect a great chair as a result.  You need to focus on developing all four.

And this is a great challenge to parents.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I am not doing the job I want to do.  But I want to do better, that’s for sure.  A part of the reason why I put up Lessons Of A Dad is to challenge myself to improve in fatherhood.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Francis Chan’s newest book, Erasing Hell, is another best seller

Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made upFrancis Chan’s new book, Erasing Hell, debuts at No. 3 this week on the New York Times.  The renowned author now has three books simultaneously on that listCrazy Love is right behind it at No. 4, while Forgotten God is at No. 10. 

Man, that guy brings the awesome yet again.  Forgotten God is among my mom’s favourite books and as per her very strong recommendation I will pick it up when my schedule becomes freer.  I will be sure to pick up Crazy Love at the local book store as well.  (Sorry, as a Literature teacher, I already have more than enough books breathing down my neck as it is…pleasure reading will have to wait)

I don’t know him much as an author, but I know Francis Chan more as a very, very, VERY effective speaker.  There are many fantastic communicators out there and Francis ranks among the very best, alongside my favorites like Judah Smith, Andy Stanley, and Wayne Cordeiro

But what I really like with Francis Chan is (1) he is very visual, and I’m a very visual learner; and (2) he is hilarious, but he uses his hilarity to make powerful points; and (3) he very strongly attacks lukewarmness in the Christian life, which is something that I often struggle with. The other guys I mentioned tend to inspire me, but Francis Chan convicts me.

Here’s a youtube video to show you what I mean:

If his books can convict me as much as that short, little snippet of one of his talks, then I’m gonna take them up for sure.  Crazy Love, Forgotten God, and now Erasing Hell

Oh, he has also written some children’s books, too, and they are: Halfway Herbert, The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village, and Ronnie Wilson’s Gift.  Altogether, Francis Chan, who is the founding pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA, has sold more than 2.1 million books.

Lastly—and this has nothing to do with his writing or speaking ability, but it’s awesome nonetheless—Francis Chan can totally rock the dance floor.  You don’t believe me?  Watch.

And no, no more “It’s gotta be the hair” comments, okay? Well, I was tempted to title this “It’s gotta be the hair, part 2” this entry here being part 1.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

12 years and counting…and marriage principles that helped us last

Yesterday marked twelve long years of marriage to my beautiful lover and best friend, Jhean.  I could say they were twelve wonderful years; and yes, the highest of highs I’ve ever experienced are credited to my life with this wonderful young woman.  She truly is a great source of happiness and inspiration…the love of my life.

But these twelve years also marked some of the greatest struggles I’ve ever had.  Marriage and raising a family sure can be hard work, so hard that many people give up.  Furthermore, many of you know that I became a father and a husband at a very young age.  I was 21, Jhean was 18; just mere university students who made a big mistake and scrambled trying to rectify things.  Scary much?

But, here we are, 12 years and counting…and it has been one ride full of highs and lows.  I believe we have been blessed tremendously with certain things as a couple, and as I pondered on what helped us stay together, I came up with a few ideals and marriage principles that helped us last, which I hope can help the dads and husbands out there, too.

Principle 1: know who your wife is in God’s eyes.  My wife is a wonderful woman, but she has a very strong personality, and, growing up, she was not really trained to be gentle when it comes to what comes out of her mouth.  That can often exasperate me.  She has a whole bunch of weaknesses and flaws, too.  But in no way will I let these be the cause of a split.  Why?  Because in the midst of my frustration, I make myself see that she is my co-heir in God’s grace.  An equal partner in marriage and in God’s inheritance for us, so obviously, someone who should be treasured.  Here’s the verse:

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” (1 Pet. 3:7)

Principle 2: Forgive much, because you have been forgiven much.  With two very different, flawed people in one roof, conflict is a given.  Forgiveness is a must, because there were times when I also had to be forgiven.  Maybe if I was Mr. Perfect, I could have the right to not forgive her.  But I have committed my share of booboos, so it would be very hypocritical of me to have a hard, unforgiving heart when she also has had to deal with occasional idiocy on my part. 

The bible commands us to forgive each other not once, not twice, but seventy times seven times (Matt. 18:22).  Can you actually keep count?  (“Aha, this is your 469th offense!  Just two more and that’s it!”)  No, you can’t.  So you shouldn’t keep count in forgiving others as well, spouse being on the top of that list.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That LastsPrinciple 3:  Know each other’s love language.  Gary Chapman’s classic book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts is a must have for all couples.  The principles in this book would be a tremendous help, I tell you.

Basically, it’s like this: there are five different “love languages,” or expressions of love, that we all can understand: time, touch, talk, tasks, and treasures.  However, each one of us has a particular love language that stands out above the rest.  This is the love language that a particular person expresses the most, and it’s also the one who affects him or her the most when it is done to them. 

For example if wifey buys me things (treasures) or does stuff for me (tasks), I’d appreciate it, for sure, but it won’t really ring my bell.  However, if she gives me verbal praise, it would make my day…maybe even make my week.  Guess what my love language is: talk.  This is how I express my love, too.  I’m sure if you ask any of the girls I’ve dated, they’d tell you that my love letters are so loooooong.  Also, I’m known among my friends as a great encourager and counselor.  Well, it’s because talk is my love language.

If you want to make your spouse happy, get to know your spouse’s love language and learn to execute it well.  Wifey?  Her love language is touch.  Trust me, I’ve got that one down.

Another reason why knowing the love language is so important is because it is the one that hurts the most when it is violated.  Remember earlier I said that my wife has trouble taming her tongue?  She has realized that over the years, her harsh words have hurt me very deeply, much more than any other sin she has done against me.  As for her love language, if I leave the house without giving her a kiss or a hug, she gets a bit peeved.  A very close second for her primary love language is time, and I know I caused her a lot of pain when I gave more time and effort to my work than I did to her and the kids.

(Btw, there’s also The Five Love Languages Singles Edition for those who are not married; The Five Love Languages of Children which is among the must have parenting books; and The 5 Love Languages Men’s Edition: The Secret to Love That Lasts, specifically for us, dudes.)

Principle 4: know your role, and do it well.  Can you imagine riding in a car with two driver’s seats, two steering wheels, two gear shifts, and two sets of pedals?  It would not be a nice ride, would it?  A house that has two people in the metaphorical driver’s seat would surely have the same kind of chaos.  My wife and I believe in the Bible, and in it are clearly defined roles that the husband and wife should play.  We follow them, things will flow better.

Of course, following them is easier said than done, especially if you did not grow up in a household that modeled them.  In a nutshell, husbands are wired to want to lead and to provide, and are called to love the wife like Christ loved the church (Christ loved the church more than he loved his own person.  Do you think He wanted to go to the cross?).  Wives are called to submit and to respect, and I think the Bible said this because God knew that the greatest need of men is to be respected by the people whom they love. 

Now these roles were set up not because one is superior nor subservient to the other, as some, especially women, would think (“Submit to my husband?  Whatttt?”)  The roles were laid out so that there would be order.  So that there would not be two drivers seats, steering wheels, pedals, and gearshifts.  Equal partners; different roles.

What’s amazing is, if one spouse really does his or her role well, the other will likely follow suit.  A very fulfilled wife would say, “My husband loves me so much that he always prioritizes my needs and the needs of my children over his own (like Christ loves the church).  How can I not submit to a loving man like that?” 

The husband, in turn, would say, “She shows me so much love and respect.  Because of that, putting her needs before my own is not even a struggle.”  It’s a healthy cycle.

Of course, our selfishness and sin will keep this from being easy.  My wife and I struggle with this greatly.  Trust me, we haven’t arrived yet in this principle, yet there has been a lot of growth in the past 12 years, for sure.

Principle 5: Attend marriage and parenting seminars.  Schools teach us to learn a trade.  They teach you to be a great doctor, a great lawyer, great accountant, great engineer, etc.  But do you go to school to be great at the upkeep of the most basic, and most important, unit in society?  Is there husband 101?  Parenting 101?  Last time I checked, there was none, and so we have to go by the models we have, such as our own parents…and if they’re not shining examples here, you’re at a disadvantage.

Well, my wife and I have been blessed to attend the almost yearly marriage and parenting seminars that my church does.  We haven’t missed one since we started to worship at CCF.  We make it a point to equip ourselves in this area, or else we’ll just grope in the dark and the possibility of us ending up like so many broken families out there is great. 

And we learn so very, very much; even if we attend them for the nth time (well, now we are actually breakout leaders whenever these events happen).  If we didn’t attend these, who knows what would’ve happened to us.  Yeah, marriage is work, but regular work has a training period that equips the newbie for the job.  CCF’s seminars are like that for marriage, and attending them is a must…especially if you don’t have good models anywhere else. 

Principle 6: Join a couples small group.  This is a HUGE reason why my wife and I are doing well.  We have been blessed to be part of one of the several young couples groups in CCF.  We are a handful of couples around the same age range, going through the same things, having the same mindset when it comes to family and career…and boy do we help each other grow. 

A pastor or a priest (especially a priest, since he’s neither a husband nor a father) can’t help you out much with your domestic struggles, being in charge of a congregation of several hundreds of people.  But a close network of couples?  Genuine friends who struggle with what you struggle with, who try to walk in the right path alongside you?  Definitely some genuine growth and counsel will take place, it’s impossible not to.  (That said, our pastors are exemplary parents and husbands, and are tremendous at counseling if you set an appointment…but this can never be a regular thing)

Joining a young couples group is a definite must.  I have learned as much from my good friends in the group as I have in all the marriage seminars I have attended.    And that says a lot.

Of course, it takes a lot more than just a few principles to make a marriage work.  But doing these six is a good start.  And I for one am a very blessed man to have been married to Jhean for twelve years and counting.  It’s been a fantastic ride, with the right amount of dips and weaves and exhilarating highs.  Surely, I’m looking forward to many more years, as the best is yet to come.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Check out the imported stuff_.css

You might be thinking that I’m reversing my stand in the Buy Pinoy Experiment article that became far and away my most popular blog post.  Nope, I’m not.  “Check out the imported stuff_.css” is about something else altogether.  If you’re a subscriber or follower of this blog, you were likely swamped by all these new posts dated around early this year or even 2010.  My apologies, and I will explain why that happened.

Before starting Lessons Of A Dad, I maintained a personal blog on WordPress.  It was basically a spiritual journal and an online dairy of the goings on of my life and the lives of the Alado family household.  Not wanting to do two blogs at the same time, I stopped this personal blog when I started Lessons Of A Dad.

Well, I figured out how to import those old WordPress blog entries into Lessons of A Dad…and I published (or should I say, re-published) a whole lot of them.  So this explains why some of you were flooded by notifications of a dozen blogs or so, and many of them have topics that are strangely out of sync, talking about Christmas and stuff.

Allow me to give a brief description on some of these imported blogs of the past.  Some of them are still relevant reads many months after they’ve been first published.

M&M:  Tells of the power of a great role model and mentor through a conversation I had with my daughter.

It’s gotta be the hair!  Featuring a talk from a youth  conference earlier this year.  Why the title?  You have to check out the blog entry.

A (school) year in review: Well, this is a video/photo journal of the past year as a high school teacher in the only school in the Asia-Pacific region that offers a full-spectrum Montessori education.  See what I go thorough on a daily basis.

How materials enhance preschool learning:  Features my son and some of his classmates from the most recent AOS open house.  It shows you how amazing Montessori early education is.

Summer is a great chance for kids to do chores.  This was made in the middle of summer vacation here in the Philippines.  If you are a reader from the States, then I this is relevant to you because you have just started your summer break.

Teens who wait…and how yours could be one of them:  Made after I reminisced of a discussion on out-of-control teen hormones.

Revenge is sweet…? You want to take revenge?  It’s not as sweet as you think.

A Parenting word about gift giving (parts 1 and 2): Part 1 deals with gifts NOT to get your children or their friends.  Part 2 deals with principles on what you should buy for kids.

Permit the children to come to me: Some of my musings on serving in my church’s children’s ministry.

My mom’s 60th birthday: my most popular article in  the prvious site in terms of pageviews.

We have a bigger role than submitting a ballot: Made right before the most recent Presidential elections.

No hands, no feet…but what a heart!  Based on a very inspirational young man who was born without any limbs, but his wonderful heart makes up for it.

CCF’s newest (and scariest) ministry: Just go see it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

An interesting BUY PINOY experiment: 2011 edition

This is a 2011 update or remake of one of my most popular blog articles on my personal site. It’s regarding a book-based project that I give every school year to my third year high school students.

I proudly call it: the BUY PINOY Experiment, where the students had to, whenever possible, exclusively use locally-made Filipino products, no imported goods allowed, for one week.

As some of you know, I am a teacher by profession. One of the subjects I teach is Literature, and here I differ from the norm in that I give more than just fiction. I often have students read books that build their character in addition to the works by the authors such as Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, and George Orwell.

One such book, which the third year students read, is 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country. The author, Atty. Alex Lacson, noticed that we as the Filipino people are very unpatriotic. We put down our own country constantly, so many of us dream of leaving, we don’t pay taxes properly…heck, even the most popular college course, by far, is one designed to get us out of these shores.

So, this book is Atty. Lacson’s heartfelt effort to have us believe in our struggling country and do what we can to support it. He enumerated twelve easy steps on how to do that, hence the title.

The third chapter of the book deals with patronizing Filipino products, and it’s one of the hardest hitters for me, personally. I grew up in America during the time they had a “Buy American” campaign; and the many South Koreans who live here among us amaze me in that they refuse to patronize anything not made in their home country.

Filipinos? Well, in one of the first reflection assignments of this topic, a former student last year summed up very bluntly what is likely the mindset of her classmates, and probably of the whole nation as well: “I don’t use Filipino products to the point that I don’t even know what they are.” Now that hurts.

And it’s not just my Filipino ego that hurts. The Philippine economy hurts too. Lacson explains that when we buy an imported product, perhaps 50% of the price we pay for it goes outside the country, money that could’ve gone to our very needy people if we bought a Filipino-made product.

Of course, the main reason why we don’t patronize is we think that our products are inferior. Maybe it’s true for a good number of them, but why not support anyway and give them the funds to make their products better? Look at San Miguel Beer. Oh, we Filipinos loooooove to support THIS local product! Now, it’s hailed as one of the world’s best beers.

So here’s their project for this chapter: The BUY PINOY Experiment 2011. The students, for one whole week, had to exclusively use Filipino products whenever possible, replacing the imported products that they love oh, so much. I learned my lesson from last year and sent out a memo to the parents, asking them to buy the Pinoy goods and to be one with us in trying to instill patriotic values to their kids. When one week is over, they write an essay about their experience.

I just finished grading their essays, and was pleased with the results. Just like the first go-round last year, the students found little to no difference in quality between Pinoy products and their international counterparts. Hapee instead of Colgate was an easy switch for most. Some struggled with Magnolia butter compared to Anchor, but others didn’t see much difference. One student tried the locally made pineapple spread compared to the imported marmalade, and found the local brand much better. The Fibisco cookies were liked as much as, and some even better than, the international ones. And who doesn’t love Puto Seko?

The students struggled mightily at first, but grew to love the assignment. They now wonder why we so smugly ignore the goods we make from our own shores.  Here’s what some of the students had to say:

  • “Let’s stop brainwashing ourselves that just because it’s imported, it’s better.”
  • “Before the week of our project, I thought, ‘Man, this is gonna be hard!’…To my surprise, nothing really changed…I barely felt a struggle…I don’t plan on stopping here.  I want to continue supporting local products and buy them more often.”
  • “One week of buying only local products passed by pretty fast.  It was not too hard to resist the imported things and buy the Filipino products instead.  Some were actually not that bad.”
  • “Before this project, I underestimated and undervalued the local products of our country.  Little did I know that after this project, I would see things in a different light and appreciate my country’s products more than I have ever before.
Well, just like the first incarnation of this blog post, I want to use this article to challenge you, dear Filipino reader, to do your own version of the kids’ BUY PINOY project. You may be just as surprised as they were. Try it out for a week…and don’t stop there. They didn’t.

My family almost always goes to either Jollibee or Bacolod Inasal when we eat lunch after church. I vastly prefer Human Heart Nature’s organic bug spray over OFF! lotion. Our native tsokolate or sikwate drink trumps Swiss Miss, and you can probably say that with our homegrown coffees, too. Hapee toothpaste and Magnolia ice cream have been long-time products in our household. It even got to the point that I sold my phones and bought a dual-sim model from the Philippines’ first mobile phone brand, My|Phone.

My mom also followed suit, getting an even nicer model.

Hey, if we can do it, and if my privileged students can do it, then you can buy Pinoy too. Outside of the shirts with the Philippine designs on them, and our manic support for Manny Pacquiao, patriotism in this country is just about dead…or at least in the ICU. Buying Filipino products is an easy way to show our love for country. See you in Jollibee!

(For more blog articles about what goes on during my teaching adventures, click here.  This blog is mostly about parenting, with a bit of Christian living and ministry, marriage, Pinoy patriotism, and others topics aimed to develop the reader’s mind, body, and soul.  If you would like some good, helpful articles on these topics, I would consider it an honor if you follow or subscribe to Lessons Of A Dad.  You can also go to my Facebook page here, and I’m also on Twitter at @lessonsofadad)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Grilling food isn’t good for you, unless…

One thing I find important for parents, especially dads, is health and wellness.  Firstly, since you have so much influence over your kids, you being a good example in this area will be a great start on the road to building happy healthy kids, then teens, then adults, themselves.  Second, well, I want the best for my kids, and poor health isn’t the best.  Third, I’d love to run circles around my grand kids one day.  That would be the coolest.  I’d love to live to see my great grand kids, too. 

And what a delicious way to start Lessons of A Dad’s articles on health with a delicious topic: the good ‘ol barbecue.  MmmmMmmm!

One thing that Filipinos and Americans have in common is that we love to grill our food.  Filipino cuisine has mastered the art of pork barbeque and chicken barbeque on a stick.  Americans, especially now that it’s summer on their shores and the 4th of July is coming up, love grilling up a steak and a burger…and who doesn’t love those?

I’ll tell you who doesn’t love those grilled foods: nutritionists and health conscious people.  Well, there’s a good reason why they don’t.  You have the double whammy of: cooking food in high temperatures and the smoke that makes that delicious…uh, smoky flavor.  Together, they put into your food some really bad guys named Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs).  I won’t go into what these guys do to you, but let’s just say they very significantly increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other ailments.

But can you have your health and still have that delicious grilled flavor too?  I believe you can.  I’ve looked around some of my favorite health resources and came up with eight healthy grilling tips for you.

1. This one starts long before you fire up your coals: make sure you marinate your meat.  Marinating your meat in alcoholic beverages such as beer or wine for six hours can reduce the HCAs by 90 percent (wow, there IS a healthy use for alcohol after all).  Using high antioxidant ingredients in your marinade, like fresh herbs, garlic, and other spices will also greatly reduce the HCAs and AGEs.  The juice of citrus fruits like lemon juice will tremendously reduce these bad guys as well.

So, making a marinade that contains all three will be a sure winner, like this one.  You can also find several recipes for marinades in The Best Little Marinades Cookbook (Best Little Cookbooks)

2.  Choose lean meats or trim the fat off your meat.  The fat drips into the coals, increasing the smoke around your meat, which increases the amount of PAHs too.

3.  Make sure your grill is clean.  This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen some people fire up their grill with the grate still having pieces of burnt meat on it.  Not nice.

4.  Cook your food with indirect heat, such as a rack or use a cedar plank.  The higher the temperature, the more HCAs form.

5.  Flipping your meat often also reduces the HCAs. 

6.  The meat you use is also very important.  Use the highest quality organic and grass-fed meats you can find.  The worst will be processed meat like hot dogs. 

7.  Mixing your meat for burger patties with high antioxidant ingredients like diced herbs or berries not only add flavor, but lower the formation of HCAs as well.

8.  Don’t overcook food, and if your cooking results in black and charred parts, remove them.

So go fire up the barbeque, and make things a lot healthier for you and your guests by following these eight tips.  Of course, since grilling is not the healthiest way to cook, you don’t want to grill too often.  Also, you’d want to have healthy sidings as well, like a great garden salad, to go with it.

Happy grilling!

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