Why You Should Always Marinate When Grilling

Grilling this weekend? Marinate on this!

Robin Foroutan and Stephanie Mandel by Robin Foroutan and Stephanie Mandel

Grilling this weekend? Marinate on this!

August 27, 2019

Summer is finally here, and chances are as the temperatures heat up, so does the grill! But before you fire up the barbie, be sure to whip up a flavorful, antioxidant-rich marinade.

Why? Because grilling any meat at a high temperature creates a type of cancer-causing compound (carcinogen) called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). HCAs form as a reaction between high heat, the amino acid creatine and naturally occurring sugar. To add insult to injury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), another type of carcinogenic compound, are formed when fat drippings hit the coals or flames and produce smoke. The smoke sticks to your food…not ideal!

But don’t fret about your backyard fete – there’s a delicious solution to this carcinogen quandary! Marinating meats in certain herbs and spices can slash the formation of HCAs by nearly 90%. And simply trimming the fat from meat, grilling at a lower temperature, and controlling fire flare-ups cut down on the PAHs. Many delicious herbs and spices have been found to block the formation of HCAs. The herbs and spices that appear to be the most protective include: basil, black pepper, marjoram, savory, garlic, oregano, ginger, rosemary, thyme, mint, sage and turmeric. 

The key to a carcinogen-cutting marinade is to use an acid like lemon juice or vinegar as a base and be sure to leave out any added sugar, honey or other sweeteners. Commercial barbecue sauces or marinades with added sugars have been found to triple HCA formation, so steer clear! And if you’re in need of some inspiration, check out our recipe for steak kabobs.

- Grilled Steak Kabobs -

Grilled Steak Kabobs

These marinated Grilled Steak Kabobs are full of fresh flavors from the summer vegetables, herbs and spices. A delicious low carb dish to add to your BBQ menu!



  • 1 ½ lbs. organic grass-fed steak, cut into cubes
  • 2 organic zucchini, sliced
  • 2 organic summer squash, sliced
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 organic red bell pepper, sliced (sub with baby bella mushrooms if you’re on our Daily Benefit detox plan)


  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup avocado oil
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • ¼ cup organic basil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cut your steak into pieces. Try to keep them uniform in size so they'll cook evenly.
  2. Add your steak and marinade ingredients to a large bowl. Massage the marinade evenly around the steak until well-coated and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  4. Thread alternating pieces of meat and vegetables onto the skewers.
  5. Season each kabob with sea salt and ground pepper.
  6. Grill the kabobs on preheated grill, flipping frequently until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes.
  7. Let the kabobs rest for a few minutes and enjoy!

*Pro tip: When using wooden skewers, soak them in water before using, so they don’t catch fire. Better yet, use reusable stainless steel skewers.


This guide was written by Dr. Morrison and the health and nutrition experts at The Morrison Center. Our team is dedicated to helping you achieve optimal health through the treatment and prevention of disease.


Dr. Jeffrey Morrison is an award-winning medical doctor, a leader in the field of Integrative Medicine, and champion of a nutritional approach to healthcare



Robin is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in Integrative Medicine, Functional Medicine and holistic healing modalities. She helps her clients address complicated conditions and return to wellness.



Stephanie is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner with a passion for helping her clients fulfill their potential through both emotional and physical optimization.


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