July 1

Healthy Grilling Guide & Marinating Tips

Cooking Basics, Tips


Grilling is a simple, delicious, and nutritious cooking method when you follow a few simple rules.  Although animal proteins are the most common grilled items, it is an excellent technique for plant proteins, vegetables, and even fruits!  Check out the tips below and go get grilling!!  

Cooking Corner: Marinating Simplified

Summer means grilling, and grilling means marinating. A marinade is a liquid or a rub combining an acid, aromatics (flavorings), and fat used to flavor and tenderize food before cooking. Although there are many pre-made marinades you can purchase, making your own is fast, inexpensive, and easy once you understand the three basic components.

Acids are the foundation and include vinegar, citrus juice, wine, buttermilk, or yogurt. Acid breaks down the protein on the meat’s surface allowing it to absorb moisture and flavor.

Aromatics are the flavor enhancers - herbs, spices, chili peppers, garlic, ginger, and onions.

Finally, fats keep food moist. Some people leave out fat to cut calories, but it usually backfires. The food dries out, browns unevenly, and even sticks to the grill. Fats include oil, mayonnaise, and full-fat yogurt.

As a general rule, use equal parts acid and fat along with a generous amount of flavor enhancers.

Great basic marinade combinations to try:

(note: Avocado oil is my go-to for marinades, but you can also use olive oil. Just be sure to adjust the grill heat level to account for the lower smoke point.)

  • Balsamic Marinade: ½ C. oil, ½ C. balsamic vinegar, 1 T. each chopped fresh basil & chives, 2 minced garlic cloves
  • Italian Marinade:  2/3 C. red wine vinegar, 1/3 C. white wine, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 T. minced fresh parsley, 1 T. minced fresh oregano, 1 T. minced basil, ½ cup oil
  • Asian Marinade:  ½ C. orange juice, ¼ C. lime juice, 2 T. sesame oil, 2 T. neutral oil, 2 T. soy sauce or liquid aminos, 3 minced garlic cloves, 2 T. finely grated fresh ginger, 1 T. Sriracha hot chili sauce (or to taste) and 1 T. honey
Marinating Tips:
  • Use a glass container or zip-top bag since acids can react to metal and plastic absorbs odors.
  • For safety, marinate in the refrigerator.  Remove 30 minutes before grilling.
  • Salt food after removing from marinade but before grilling.  Salt in the marinade will dry out the meat. 
  • Marinades can be used as a dipping sauce if boiled for 3 minutes.
  • Allow meats to rest briefly before serving to redistribute juices and allow for absorption of flavors.

Mrs. Dornberg

About the author

Cheryl Dornberg, NBC-HWC, is a national board-certified health & wellness coach and culinary nutrition expert who is passionate about using the power of food to achieve optimal health and increase longevity. She specializes in motivating and empowering individuals to create sustainable & consistent dietary and lifestyle habits that support the management and prevention of chronic health conditions, increase longevity, and improve overall quality of life.


basic technique, grilling, healthy cooking

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