With a well stocked kitchen it making your own marinade requires little more than opening up your pantry doors and pulling out the right ingredients.
Without getting too technical or scientific marinades require three things:
1. An Acid or Enzyme– the primary purpose of the acid is to tenderize the protein. Acids include lemon, lime, fruit juices, vinegars, wine, and dairy like yogurt and buttermilk.
2. Herbs– the herbs provide the flavor. These include spices and seasonings such as oregano, garlic, rosemary and can include dijon mustard.
3. Time– marinating takes time so the liquid can penetrate the protein. However, a good marinade will not need too much time.
Choose With Healthy Habits In Mind
There are many reasons why we marinate. But most of us choose a marinade for its flavor. They offer very little physical satisfying power (they are condiments) therefore we want to look for a marinade that offers flavor while minimizing the amount of calories it contains. If a marinade is too high in calories it is classified as a TASTE ENHANCER. It is best to save the bulk of our calories for the foods that fill you up and provide you with volume.
Since not all of the liquid in a marinade is absorbed some people think it doesn’t matter how many calories a marinade contains. Not every bit of the marinade is absorbed into the meat but when we can use a marinade as a sauce, the calories become more important. Furthermore, while we are establishing healthy habits lets make them across the board and choose to make and purchase foods with health in mind.
Picking A Store-Bought Marinade
When we make our own marinades we can control for a lot. However, if we “need” to buy a marinade it is important to know what to look for and limit what we can. A store-bought marinade will unfortunately have sodium in it and I am talking more than we would choose. But one of the simplest ways to limit the amount of sodium in the meal is by not seasoning the food with salt prior to cooking it.
Calories are important to be mindful of and there are plenty of marinades on the market to choose from that are calorically responsible. The two areas where marinades get calories from are sugars and fats. Make it easier for yourself and just look at the calories here. A marinade will most likely have both of these but we just want to minimize the amount. By paying attention to the total calories you can be confident there isn’t too much of either.
I came up with an easy and loose criteria to guide you. “Loose” because I want to emphasize the importance of being flexible. A marinade favorite of mine is higher in calories and sugar than I would like but I still use it, just not as often as other marinades.
So now on to the specifics. A few of my favorite marinades include most, if not the whole line of Lawry’s Marinades, Soy Vey Veri Veri Teriyaki with Less Sodium, Iron Chef Sauces and Glazes, and the marinades that come in a convenient bag, Jack Daniels EZ Marinader. You will find more than enough of a variety in these. They are all delicious and fit the criteria.
Healthy Homemade Marinades
Of course I want to include a few of my favorite homemade marinades. Salad dressings also make great marinades, one of my favorite is Dijon Vinaigrette. All of these marinades that are calorically responsible, will be enjoyed by all, and are quite simple to make. You may even have the items stocked in your pantry already.
Make your own marinade. Get creative and get cooking! Just make it fun, simple and delicious.
Serves: 1 cup
- ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup sake or mirin
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- Whisk soy sauce, sake (or mirin), brown sugar, garlic and ginger in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved.
Serves: 1 cup
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- In a medium bowl whisk together all the ingredients.
- Marinate chicken or pork for 1 to 4 hours and discard marinade.
- Cook as desired.
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- 4 tablespoons of ketchup
- 4 tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce
- 3 teaspoons of ginger, minced and peeled*
- 4 garlic cloves, minced*
- Combine all of the ingredients in a lidded container.
- Close lid and shake well until all of the ingredients are well incorporated