It's time once again to fire up the grill and put your grilling skills to the test. We know that people are particular about their grilling style. Some people prefer charcoal, others prefer gas. We prefer a gas grill simple because it is easier to control the temperature and we are less likely to char the heck out of whatever is on the grill. We know that when meats (or anything for that matter) are cooked at very high temperatures, harmful substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and HCAs (heterocyclic amines) can form. These are the same harmful chemicals present in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, and have been linked to cancers in laboratory animals.
The good news is that some popular marinating agents may help reduce the formation of PAHs and HCAs. Recent research showed that pork that was marinated in beer for four hours (Pilsner beer, non-alcoholic Pilsner beer or a black beer ale) and grilled to well-done, reduced PAH levels by more than half compared with unmarinated pork. The black beer had the strongest protective effect. When you marinate meat for at least 30 minutes, you can help protect against PAHs and HCAs. Other healthy marinades of choice include yogurt, citrus-based, and herb-based.
Here are a few healthy marinades to try:
Beer Marinade (good for all meat)
1 cup beer (dark recommended – gluten free beer also works!)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon honey
Black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, reduce heat & simmer 10 minutes uncovered. Allow to cool.
Marinate meat in beer mixture for at least 1-2 hours turning occasionally.
Yogurt Marinade (good for chicken)
2 cups plain Greek yogurt (whole milk or lowfat)
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
¼ cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 2'piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Marinate chicken in yogurt mixture (covered) in the refrigerator for at least three hours or overnight.
Citrus Marinade (best on chicken or fish)(Adapted from Bon Appetit magazine recipe)
3 tablespoons scallions, well rinsed and thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (mostly leaves and soft stems)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lime (or lemon) zest
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup (2 to 3 limes) fresh lime (or lemon) juice
1/4 cup (1 juicy orange) fresh orange juice
1/4 cup reduced-sodium wheat-free soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
Puree all of the ingredients together in a blender. Marinate chicken for 30 minutes to 2 hours (but not overnight). If marinating fish, no more than an hour.
Herb Marinade (good for pork or red meat) (Adapted from Ina Garten)
Zest from 2 lemon
¾ cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons minced garlic (3-4 cloves)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons salt
Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork or meat and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.