Mediterranean Marinades for Healthier Grilling

med marinades

Marinating is a centuries-old practice that tenderizes, flavors and preserves vegetables and meat. It’s also a good way to reduce the formation of cancer-causing substances when grilling. If you’re firing up the grill this month, don’t forget to try out some of our quick and easy mixtures. 

Choosing leaner meats and avoiding processed meats like hot dogs and 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.

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 add the meat to marinate.

Guide to Healthy Grilling
  • Flip meats with a spatula or tongs to avoid piercing that lets juices run out.
  • Use tinfoil between the meat and the flames.
  • Keep a spray bottle filled with water on hand to keep flames in check.
  • Don't squirt starter fluid into coals while meats are cooking.

Here are some winning marinades that tenderize and flavor your food in addition to being healthy. 

Tangy Yogurt-Spice Marinade

1 1/2 cups low-fat yogurt

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. minced garlic cloves

2 tsp. minced fresh ginger (or 1 tsp. dried, ground ginger)

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. ground turmeric

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

turmeric yogurt saucePlace 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. 

Makes 6 servings. (About 1 2/3 cups)

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

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 a 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. 

Makes 8 servings. (About 1 cup)

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.

citrus dressing

Citrus Marinade

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. 

Makes 4 servings. (about 1.5 cups)

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.

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