Healthy Marinating & Grilling

Updated:Jan 14,2015

grilled chicken breast with green beans and forkIt doesn’t have to be summertime to enjoy the flavors of a good marinade! A marinade helps to tenderize food before it hits the grill.

If you don’t have an outdoor gas or charcoal grill, a grill pan or indoor, electric grill are less expensive options that still give delicious results.

No matter how you grill, here are some tips on keeping it heart healthy.

  • Go Lean- Grilling foods lower in saturated and trans fat is better for your heart.
    • Use skinless pieces of chicken. Always trim off all visible fat prior to cooking meat and poultry.
    • Choose lean or extra-lean ground beef, ground chicken or turkey.
    • Try out different fillets of fish (wrapped in foil.) Or cook up veggie kebabs that have been marinated.
    • Grill portabella mushrooms for a rich, flavorful “burger”.
    • Limit your red meat intake and choose leaner loin, round, or leg cuts when selecting beef, pork or lamb.
  • Give It A Soak or Rub –Marinating or rubbing spices on poultry, fish, and vegetables add a variety of flavors to you meals.
    • Use about ½ cup marinade or 1 tablespoon of spice rub for each pound of food.
    • Always discard the marinade or rub after you have finished – never reuse marinade to baste food after raw meat has touched it.

Simple marinade recipe (for poultry, fish or vegetables):

Whisk together 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, 2 teaspoons vinegar and 3 minced garlic cloves. Slowly whisk in 1 teaspoon olive oil until combined. Place in zip-top plastic bag with your food and soak in the refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight. Note: For fish, only soak in the refrigerator for up to 1 hour before cooking.

Simple rub recipe (for chicken or fish):

Mix together 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons cumin and 2 teaspoons paprika . Rub thoroughly over your food right before cooking.

  • Keeping It Clean – Get in the habit of scrubbing down the grill rack or grill pan after each use. Removing leftover pieces of food stuck to the grill prevents burning, smoke and your food tasting funny the next time you grill.
  • Avoid the Burn – If you use charcoal, wait at least 20 minutes after lighting to cook and with a gas grill, avoid high temperatures or burning. Cut off any burnt or black bits before eating.

Article copyright © 2015 American Heart Association. This recipe/article is brought to you by the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart © Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit

Last reviewed 1/2015