Your Meat's Healthiest Friend
Sure, they taste great!
But, did you know that the right method can also protect your health, boost your antioxidant intake, and slash your cancer risk?
I love the complexity of flavors and moisture that a marinade adds, but to make it onto my grill, they also have to meet certain criteria.
Because really, many bottled marinades are not much more than liquid salt and/or sugar with a little garlic thrown in.
But I prefer a home-made marinade-recipe that's made from a combination of antioxidant-rich superfoods like citrus juices, olive oil, honey, tomatoes, hot peppers, fresh rosemary, cilantro, and ginger.
The ingredients in these wholesome sauces boost your nutrient intake, protect you from harmful bacteria, and lower your cancer risk.
Healthful marinades have a couple of key components.
The first is natural acidic ingredients such as vinegar, wine, tomatoes, and fruit juices, which tenderize meat by breaking down protein structures.
This also allows moisture and flavors to be absorbed, making meats easier to digest, and may slow the growth of harmful bacteria, such as Listeria.
The second is antioxidant-rich ingredients, such as herbs, spices, citrus juice, fruit and vegetable purees, and even honey.
These components may act as anti-agers and disease fighters, but they also counteract some of the risks associated with grilling.
When meat is heated to a high temperature, cancer-causing substances called heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, are formed.
But according to the American Institute for Cancer Research, briefly marinating may reduce HCAs by as much as 99%.
A new study from scientists at Kansas State University found that marinated steaks had 87% fewer HCAs, a reduction that correlated directly with the amount of antioxidants present in the sauce.
Marinating the Smart Way
To save some calories, I like to use about 1/2 c. of marinade for every pound of meat, roughly 3 Tbs. per 6 oz. of meat, enough to properly coat without excess.
And to prevent food poisoning, I follow these food safety rules:
Always marinate in the refrigerator (marinades can slow, but not stop bacteria growth, and germs multiply rapidly at room temperature), never taste a marinade after adding uncooked meat (you can't smell, see, or taste bacteria that can make you ill), and never re-use uncooked marinades once they've been mixed with raw meat juices.
For a healthy boost, marinate tofu or veggies in place of meat.
Plant foods don't produce HCAs, and swapping some meat for veggies can also help you cut back on calories, 10 medium asparagus spears provide just 32 calories, compared with 130 in half a boneless, skinless chicken breast.
Each of the following marinades is bursting with full, robust flavors of easy to prepare ingredients, like beer, tequila and chilies.
Marinade-Recipe #1 ~ Te-quil-a Mockingbird
A surefire crowd pleaser that mixes up in minutes.
Enough for: 1-1/2 pounds jumbo shrimp, sea scallops or chicken.
Marinating time: One to three hours for poultry, 30 minutes for seafood in refrigerator.
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
3 Tbs. tequila
2 Tbs. triple sec
1 lg. jalapeno chili, seeded, minced
1 1/2 tsp. grated lime peel
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
Mix all ingredients in small bowl.
Let stand 15 minutes.
Cover and refrigerate (can be prepared one day ahead).
If you'd like to turn your marinade into a serving sauce, boil the remaining marinade in a small saucepan for one minute.
Marinade-Recipe #2 ~ Zesty Beer
This marinade goes hand-in-hand with casual weekend barbecues and no fuss grilling.
Enough for: 2 lbs. chicken or pork.
Marinating time: A couple of hours at room temperature or overnight in refrigerator.
1 tsp. hot sauce
3 Tbs. cider vinegar
12 oz. favorite beer
1 Tbs. coarse mustard
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. minced garlic
Pinch Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Submerge meat in marinade and leave in refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for a couple of hours.
Marinade-Recipe #3 ~ Spicy Asian
Fantastic on the grill or in sautes (if the ol’ barby is snowed under).
Enough for: 1-1/2 to 2 lbs. chicken, turkey, pork cutlets or seafood.
Marinating time: Four hours for meats and one hour for seafood in the refrigerator.
3 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce (mix with hoisin if you like)
2 Tbs. rice wine or sake
1 Tbs. fresh minced garlic
1 tsp. dried chili flakes or hot chili paste (use five to six pieces smashed fresh ginger if you don’t have this)
1 Tbs. virgin olive oil (mix with sesame oil if you’ve got it)
Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl.
Marinade-Recipe #4 ~ Real Jerk Marinade
Amazing results for the minimal effort required.
Enough for: 5 lbs. of chicken
Marinating time: At least 24 hours in airtight bags in the refrigerator; can go up to two days.
2 c. finely chopped scallion
2 Habanero chilies, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves, lol)
2 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbs. fresh juice of lime
5 tsp. ground allspice
3 tsp. English-style dry mustard
2 bay leaves, center ribs discarded and the leaves crumbled
2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbs. Sea salt
2 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
1 tsp. cinnamon
In a food processor or blender puree all ingredients together.
Marinade-Recipe #5 ~ Tandoori Sauce
Though tandoori is usually made in an Indian clay oven, this sauce produces outstanding results on an outdoor grill.
Enough for: 5 lbs. of chicken.
Marinating time: Four hours at room temperature or refrigerated overnight.
2 lg. cloves fresh garlic
1 Tbs. chopped fresh ginger root
1 tsp. ground roasted cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. red pepper
1 tsp. tandoori coloring or 1 Tbs. paprika
1/2 c. plain yogurt
Put all the ingredients of the marinade into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
I hope you agree that these are all very easy marinades and we hope you enjoy them as much as we do!Tweet
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