5 ways to enjoy a non-toxic cookout

Karen Malkin: Health Counseling

Enjoy a barbecue with health benefits! FIRE UP THE GRILL

Grilling. It’s a summer staple, and maybe you’ve already been putting your grill through its paces this season. After all, there’s nothing like eating a delicious meal outdoors with your family and friends when it’s gorgeous outside! However, there’s a dark side to this favorite activity: habitual grilling of meat (namely, red meat) can increase your risk of cancer and heart disease.

Knowledge is power

There are three cancer-causing molecules present when meat is heated at a high temperature:

  • Smoke released from fat drippings from meat or fish onto a heat source contains a potent carcinogen called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
  • Molecules called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are formed by cooking meat at high temperatures. HCAs are formed through a chemical reaction between naturally occurring amino acids and creatine in the meat.
  • Advanced glycolytic enzymes (AGEs) present in the meat are increased when grilling. AGEs cause inflammation and oxidative damage in the tissues of your body, which can contribute to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and more.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce toxins and still enjoy your BBQ!

5 non-toxic BBQ tips

  1. Marinate your meat. A Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry report showed that preparing meat in antioxidant-rich marinade can be effective. The researchers found that an olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic marinade cut HCA levels in chicken by as much as 90%.3 Marinating steak in red wine for 6 hours before grilling cut down HCA levels by up to 90% compared to unmarinated steak.4 Marinating meat in dark beer also has been shown to cut down on the PAHs present in the meat.5
  2. Go grass-fed. Grilling conventional grain-fed meat causes more AGEs to form due to a higher sugar content within the meat. In addition, grass-fed meat is lower in total fat than grain-fed meat, and cooking leaner meat reduces PAH formation.
  3. Lower the temperature. Cooking at a lower temperature creates more of a “roasting” effect than grilling, but it significantly cuts down on the HCAs formed in the meat. Levels of HCAs are much higher in well-done meat than in medium-rare cooked meat.
  4. Prevent flare-ups. Flames from the grill cause the formation of both HCAs and PAHs. Keep an eye on your grill and turn meats frequently to prevent this from happening.
  5. Don’t blacken your meat. Char-grilling your meat causes the formation of large amounts of HCAs. Do your best not to create that effect on your meat and avoid eating any blackened regions.

To make your cookout healthier, be sure to include salads and sides featuring nutrient-dense colorful veggies. The antioxidant properties of loading up on vegetables can help mitigate any damage done through cooking meat on the grill. Hope yopu are having a great summer!

To your good health, Karen 

What you should know about BPAs

By Karen Malkin Health Counseling

Minimize BPA exposure and stay healthy longer

When it comes to environmental toxins, it’s impossible to cut them out altogether, but it is possible to be informed so you can minimize your risk of exposure to them. You’ve likely heard of BPA (Bisphenol-A), but do you know all the places it shows up or how it impacts your health?

The Basics

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a man-made chemical with recognized endocrine disruptor properties used to make polycarbonate plastics, and is also found in dental sealants, thermal receipts, and in the linings of many canned goods. This chemical toxicant is lipophilic, drawn to fat, and was approved for use by the FDA in the ’60s.1 Research suggests that small amounts of BPA may leach into foods or beverages stored in polycarbonate containers, especially when the contents are acidic, high in fat, or heated. For example, tomato soup cans are where the levels are the highest.

The Health Risks

Almost 50 years after the FDA’s initial approval, in 2008, the agency revisited BPA and subsequently released the Monograph on the Potential Human Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Bisphenol A. Research shows that BPA acts as a synthetic estrogen with the potential to lead to hormonal imbalances and metabolic disorders.2 It’s been linked to many conditions, including infertility, reproductive cancers, obesity, behavioral changes in children, and more.

Women and newborns are particularly at risk. A CDC study showed that women with the highest levels of environmental chemicals in their urine tended to have earlier onset of menopause, which has been correlated with heart disease, infertility, and osteoporosis risk.3 And in 2008, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported that babies are born pre-polluted!

Fortunately, studies also show when you take steps to minimize your risk of exposure to BPA and other toxic chemicals, you can very quickly decrease the levels in your body. A small study of five families in San Francisco showed that within just three days of eating mostly fresh organic food and minimal use of plastic and cans, their BPA levels were reduced by two-thirds!4

Here are 4 easy ways you can lower your BPA levels:

Avoid canned foods.

A famous Harvard study showed that BPA levels were 1,221% higher in people who consumed canned soup for five days, when compared to people who consumed fresh soup for the same time period.If you must consume canned foods, choose brands with BPA-free liners, like Eden Foods and Whole Foods 365 products.

Ditch plastic in the kitchen.

Sweep your cupboards of plastic containers and replace them with glass, metal, or silicon food containers and water bottles. Good old Ball mason jars are so useful when it comes to storing food and using as a way to transport liquids. They make taller, skinnier ones that fit in cup holders and they also sell lids and straws so you can easily sip and stay hydrated.

Have your receipts emailed.  

BPA is used as a heat-activated ink developer in the production of thermal receipts, such as those dispensed from cash registers, gas pumps, and ATMs. Because the BPA sits on the surface of slick, plastic-coated paper, it absorbs easily into the skin—especially if the receipt is warm straight from the machine.6

  • Say no to paper receipts; when possible, get them sent virtually instead
  • Keep receipts in an envelope
  • Avoid giving children receipts to hold or play with.
  • Wash your hands before preparing and eating food after handling receipts

Make probiotic foods a part of your daily diet.

Because BPAs have a shelf life, in time, an enzyme or a group of bacteria come along and break it down. Fortunately, the bacteria in probiotic foods are many of the same bacteria that get rid of BPA. For example, in 2007, researchers found that the probiotics in kimchi (a fermented food) were able to help the body detoxify BPA.In 2008, scientists found that probiotics bind to BPA, limiting the amount of BPA that makes its way into your bloodstream.Some probiotic foods include: kombucha, plain yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso.

To your good health,


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Nationally Recognized Integrative Health Expert Karen Malkin Joins EWG Board of Directors

Sports Medicine Weekly is proud to announce that one of its valued partners, Karen Malkin, a leading integrative health coach and lifestyle practitioner, has joined the EWG board of directors, further raising the group’s profile as the nation’s leading nonprofit research organization advancing the importance of healthy foods free from toxic chemicals.

“Karen’s longtime commitment and expertise in helping people make healthier choices for themselves and their families aligns seamlessly with the core mission of EWG,” said the group’s president, co-founder and fellow board member, Ken Cook. “The advice and guidance around healthy diets Karen delivers could be found on some of EWG’s websites.”

“I have closely followed the work EWG has done pushing industry and the government to make healthy food more available and accessible, and I have relied on much of EWG’s research in my own work,” said Malkin. “I am excited to be part of such an important organization, and look forward to working with my fellow board members to build on their already incredible work.”

Malkin has a private health coaching practice in Chicago. As co-founder and CEO of MCT Foods, LLC, Malkin developed a line of high-quality vegan protein blends, MCT oil and superfood bars. She is the author of the “14 Day Transformation” series including “Toxin Takedown.”

Malkin serves on the advisory council for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern Medicine; the board of directors for Gardeneers, an organization that sustains and provides curriculum for Chicago Public Schools; and the advisory board for Spiral Sun Ventures, a mission-based capital fund investing in health and wellness products.

“Karen will undoubtedly bring her passion and energy to EWG’s board, and will be an important voice as we continue to take on new challenges and opportunities,” added Cook. “Karen’s fellow board members and I are thrilled she’s agreed to help chart our course going forward.”

Transform Your Path to Wellness

By Karen Malkin Health Counseling

Join one of several 14 Day Transformation programs designed to help you dig deeper into areas of particular interest for you, providing a personalized experience. Browse the programs for you.


Order with Code: ESPN1000

The Foundations currently running

Create the groundwork for building a lasting healthy lifestyle. We will cover what, why, and how to eat so you can understand your cravings and learn to feed your body what it needs. This program is great for anyone who is new to my programs. It will build a solid foundation for personal growth and development. The Foundations is a pre-requisite for any of the specialized programs below.

Master Your Metabolism currently running

Lose weight and boost metabolism through the elimination of potential toxic triggers such gluten, dairy, and high fructose corn syrup. You will introduce your body to ketosis, new exercise routines, and learn how to make protein, carbs, and fiber your friend.

  • 21 days of e-mail support from Karen essential to learning more about your area of interest
  • 25 minute private call with Karen to discuss your Transformation and review your health goals
  • Exclusive access to a program specific, private webpage that includes:
    • Transformation guidelines
    • Recipes
    • Shopping lists
    • Educational handouts and tips relevant for your Transformation
    • Prep video
    • Transformation Smoothie instructional video
    • Additional resources
  • Wellness bag containing a 14 day supply of MCTlean™ Vegan Protein Blend, MCTlean™ MCT Oil plus an assortment of superfoods and surprises valued at $175. We will ship this Wellness Bag to you via FedEx 2nd Day for FREE!
  • Private Facebook page for community support and direct Q&A with Karen

Have questions? If you have questions about which program would be right for you, schedule a free 15-minute call with Karen.

Have you tried Karen’s Transformation Super Food Bar?


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  • Packed with protein? Check.
  • No added sugar? Check.
  • Non-GMO? Check.
  • Provides clean-burning fuel? Check.
  • Aids in detoxification? Check.
  • Helps suppress cravings? Check.
  • Contains MCTs? Check.

This is what you’ll get with the Transformation Bar—and much more! Designed with the same dedication to quality as the Omega Meal bar, the Transformation bar is lighter, but still a delicious, nutritious and convenient option for keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day.

Each box contains 12 bars. Stash one in your bag or in your desk and you can avoid the vending machine!

The Transformation Bar was personally formulated by Karen Malkin, Integrative health, nutrition, and eating psychology counselor, because she wanted to offer her clients a superior-quality energy bar that would support them during their 14 Day Transformation whole-foods cleanse. She went about creating the tastiest bar possible exclusively for them, but is now offering the Transformation Bar directly to you.