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Marinades Make Grilling Healthier

AICR Test KitchenWhen the scent of your neighbor's backyard barbecue tempts you to cook your own food on the grill, consider marinating your meat first. It's a step you can take to lessen the cancer-causing substances that tend to form from high heat and dripping fat that make flames flare and create unhealthy black charring on meats.

To avoid food poisoning, be sure to discard the marinade in which you soaked uncooked meat, poultry and fish after you remove the food for grilling. If you want some for basting, set aside a bit – about one-third of a cup – before you've put the meat in to marinate.

Choosing leaner meats and avoiding processed meats like hot dogs and fatty sausages also lowers the cancer risk of a barbecue. AICR's expert report and its continuous updates found convincing evidence that processed meats and eating more than 18 ounces per week of red meat are linked to higher risk for colorectal cancer.

Other best practices for grilling include:

  • Flipping meats with a spatula or tongs to avoid piercing that lets juices run out.
  • Using tinfoil between the meat and the flames.
  • Keeping a water spray bottle on hand to keep flames in check.
  • Not squirting starter fluid into coals while meats are cooking.
  • Fruits that are firm-fleshed do best when grilled. Try peaches, nectarines, plums, bananas, pineapple chunks and strawberries.

Here are some winning marinades that tenderize and flavor your food in addition to being cancer-preventive. (Note: The nutrition analyses apply to the approximate amount you would consume, not the whole amount because of the need to discard used marinade.)

Tangy Yogurt-Spice Marinade
(Yield: Makes about 1 2/3 cups.)

  • 1.5 cups low-fat yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp. dried, ground ginger)
  • Salt and white pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and combine at low speed. Pour into large, wide and shallow non-metal casserole dish or mixing bowl. Add food to be grilled and turn to coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. When ready to grill, drain and discard marinade. Thread skewers with food. Grill, turning often to prevent charring. If desired, make additional marinade for basting (but do not baste with used marinade to avoid food poisoning from raw meat juices).

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 23 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 3 g carbohydrates,
1.5 g protein, 0 g dietary fiber, 22 mg sodium.

Herbed Dijon Marinade and Basting Sauce
(Yield: Makes about 1 cup)

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. crushed dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed dried tarragon

In medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Pour half into plastic container with lid to reserve for basting while grilling. Place other half of mixture into large non-metal casserole dish or mixing bowl. Add food to be grilled and turn to coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. When ready to grill, drain well and discard marinade.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 28 calories, 3 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 1 g carbohydrates,
0 g protein, 0 g dietary fiber, 36 mg sodium.

Marinating Chicken with LemonCitrus Marinade
(Yield: 1.5 cups)

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning

Mix all ingredients together in large, wide and shallow non-metal casserole dish or mixing bowl. Add food to be grilled and turn to coat all sides. Cover and refrigerate for 1-6 hours. When ready to grill, remove meat and discard marinade.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 19 calories, 0 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 5 g carbohydrates,
0 g protein, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 mg sodium.

Asian Marinade
(Yield: 1 2/3 cups)

  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar or cooking sherry
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 chopped scallions
  • 1 Tbsp. honey

In a medium bowl, stir together soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, ginger, garlic, mustard, and brown sugar. Pour over meat in a shallow container. Make sure all meat is submerged in marinade. Cover, and refrigerate for 2- 6 hours. When ready to grill, remove meat and discard marinade.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 66 calories, 4 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 9 g carbohydrates,
0 g protein, 0 g dietary fiber, 98 mg sodium.

Published on May 2, 2013

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