Marinades for a Healthy & Tasty BBQ Season

May 24, 2023

By Anna Varriano

I love BBQ season! One of my favourite summertime activities is to cook an entire main course on the grill while we enjoy our backyard…and the dinner guests who are joining us!

Barbecuing foods – meats in particular (note that I’ll be using the word ‘meat’ as a catch-all to include red meat, pork, poultry, and fish) – can lead to the formation of health-harming substances such as heterocyclic aromatic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Many studies show that HCAs and PAHs may increase the risk of cancer. The good news is there are several things you can do to limit/prevent the formation of these harmful substances so that you can enjoy delicious AND healthy summer-time grilling! One of them is to marinate before you grill.

Marinating meats for at least 30 minutes before grilling has been shown to significantly reduce the amounts of HCAs and PAHs created during grilling. Below are 3 basic marinade recipes to get your creative – and digestive – juices flowing! Each recipe makes about 1 cup of marinade which is the amount that is typically recommended for 2 pounds of meat, so adjust the recipes as needed. Simply put all the ingredients in a glass container (preferably one that can be covered), whisk until well blended, add the meat, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator from 30 minutes to 3 hours. The meat doesn’t have to be completely submerged in the marinade, but for best results, turn it frequently so that all sides get well coated/marinated. Feel free to adjust the amounts of garlic, herbs, or spices to suit your taste. Get creative by adding your own favourite flavours!

Mediterranean Chicken Marinade

This marinade makes a delicious souvlaki-flavoured chicken.

  • ½ cup of olive oil
  • ½ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 tsp of dried oregano
  • A pinch of sea salt

Asian Inspired Fish Marinade

This marinade is perfect for salmon.

  • ½ cup of organic tamari or soy sauce
  • 4 TBSP of olive oil
  • 4 TBSP of rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP of maple syrup or honey
  • 2 TBSP of sesame oil
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 TBSP of fresh ginger, minced

Red Wine Steak Marinade

This is a great marinade for steaks/red meat and cubes of beef/red meat for shish-kebabs.

  • ½ cup of red wine
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBSP of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp each of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp each of oregano and ground cumin…or any herb/spice you like with your steak! (optional)

Earlier I mentioned that marinating before grilling is just one way to reduce the formation of health-harming HCAs and PAHs. To learn about other ways, check out my blog entitled 8 Tips for a Healthy and Tasty BBQ Season.

Take control of what you can!

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