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Michelle Warner

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Monday Morsel ~ Guilt-free Grilling

Posted on August 30th, 2010

sometimes random.
sometimes deep.
just a little something
to begin your week.


One of Jared’s and my favorite summer activities is grilling. I love putting together healthy food combinations and Jared enjoys firing up the grill.

Given how much we love to grill, I was quite disappointed when I read that grilling meat is not as healthy as I thought. Apparently, there are two carcinogens developed when grilling meat. The first is hetrocyclic amines (HCAs) which is formed when meat is cooked at high temperatures. The second is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which is formed when the fat from the meat drips onto the hot grill and carries the smoke to the food.

So my obvious next question was – how can I minimize these carcinogens when grilling? Here are a few suggestions I read:

  • Grill with lower temperatures.

  • Flip the meat often.

  • Use leaner meats (so that the fat doesn’t drip).

  • Add cherries to your meat.
    Huh? Did you just scratch your head with confusion on that one? I did too. Apparently, the antioxidants from the cherries guard your body against the toxins. However, I’m not so sure I can imagine the meat and cherry combo working out so well. (Feel free to prove me wrong!)

  • Eat antioxidant-rich foods with the meal.
    We also enjoy grilling good-for-you veggies like peppers, brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. I think these antioxidants will guard my body from the carcinogens well enough without the cherry combination. (ha!)
  • Drink antioxidant-rich beverages.
    Consuming green tea with your meal (see recipe below) is said to help your body detoxify from the carcinogens. I have also learned many more wonderful benefits from green tea. Stay tuned for an upcoming Monday Morsel.
  • Marinate the meat.
    Marinating the meat was the most intriguing suggestion to me. Apparently, research has found that marinating meat before grilling cuts down on the carcinogens. Below are a few antioxidant-rich ingredients to include in marinades which are said to block these carcinogens from developing:
  • Honey
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Onion
  • Rosemary*

*According to many studies, rosemary most significantly cuts carcinogen development.

Based on all of the information shared above, I looked online for some recipes before we grilled chicken last week. Jared and I both agreed that the rosemary marinade (recipe below) was hands down the best marinade we’ve used yet.

Please feel free to share any other tips or healthy marinades you have used in the comments section below.

Rosemary Marinade

(Recipe from


5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil


  1. Mix all.
  2. Pour over meat and cover for at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Orange Green Ice Tea

(Recipe tweaked from Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe on

4 servings


1 cup orange juice
½ cup sugar (I used ¼ agave nectar instead.)
2 cups water
7 green tea bags
3 cups sparkling water, chilled
1/2 small orange, thinly sliced
Fresh mint or basil sprigs, to garnish


  1. In a small saucepan or tea kettle, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the tea bags and remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Allow the tea to steep and cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the tea bags and discard.
  5. Combine the water, orange juice, and sugar (or agave nectar) into a pitcher.
  6. Pour the tea into the pitcher and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve: Pour the sparkling water into the pitcher and add the orange slices. Garnish with fresh mint, or basil.

I also found these recipes below at but I have not tried them yet.

Turmeric Garlic Marinade


2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 cup orange juice


  1. Mix all.
  2. Pour over meat for at least ten minutes.

Rosemary Tea Marinade


1/2 cup concentrated tea (two bags brewed in 1/2 cup hot water for five minutes)
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons soy sauce


  1. Add rosemary, garlic, honey and soy sauce to hot tea.
  2. Cool slightly.
  3. Pour over meat and marinate at least ten minutes.

For more information:,2933,30685,00.html

One Comment on “Monday Morsel ~ Guilt-free Grilling”

  • Amber says:


    You should try this awesome marinade for Tequila and Lime Grilled Chicken. It is one of our favorites and has both garlic and onion from the list. :)

    1/4 c. tequila
    1/3 c. lime
    1/4 c. olive oil
    1/2 c. fresh cilantro
    3 large cloves garlic
    1/2 jalapeno pepper
    1/4 c. sweet onion
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp coriander seed
    1/4 tsp cumin

    -In the bowl of food processor, add all ingredients.
    -Process until blended well, about 2 minutes.
    -In large shallow bowl, pour marinade over the chicken, ensuring all chicken is submerged.
    -Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (no more than an hour or the lime will start to “cook” the chicken).
    -Fire up grill and using tongs, remove chicken from marinade and place on grill.
    -Grill on medium/medium low, flipping once, until just cooked through, about 15 minutes.
    -Plate and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

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