All Flavor, No Downside: 5 Simple, Healthy Marinades

Marinades are the simplest, healthiest way to take a bland diet and make it brilliant. Don't wait another day to start using these recipes!

What's your image of healthy eating? If it's six Tupperware containers packed with daily boiled chicken breasts, plain steamed broccoli, and baked sweet potatoes, then you need to stop and ask one question: Where are you in that image? Are you smiling as you choke down all those bland macronutrients? Not likely!

Especially if you come from a background of eating burgers, pizza, and high sugar desserts, your taste buds are going to throw a fit if you switch over to foods in their plainest possible state. And for the majority of people, this means they'll be doomed to jump ship and doggie-paddle back over to the safety of the S.S. Junk Food.

The clean-eating cliche doesn't have to be your reality! Simple additions to your meals can pay huge dividends in terms of flavor and variety, and perhaps the greatest examples of this are marinades. These are simple sauces that you soak or brush onto meat or vegetables prior to cooking. They make food taste better, cook better, and can provide an infusion of healthy spices and herbs into your diet.

Here are a few great recipes to get you started.

1
Garlic and Rosemary Marinade

If you're eating for health or athletic performance, here's a simple rule you should memorize or consider writing on the wall in your kitchen: "The more garlic, the better." Garlic has been suggested by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition to help reduce cardiovascular disease, but it also offers far more established health benefits than we can recount here. Let's focus on perhaps the most important one: It makes healthy food taste better!

This is a simple, great tasting marinade that goes well with pretty much anything—from beef to lamb to vegetables. You probably have most of these ingredients in your cupboard already, so put them to good use!

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried Italian style seasoning
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, and then place in a bottle or use them immediately. Brush on any type of meat or vegetable prior to grilling.
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 528
Total Fat 58.3 g
Total Carbs 9.1 g
Protein 0.7 g

Garlic and Rosemary Marinade PDF

2
Basil-Rosemary Marinade

This marinade uses fresh basil and rosemary—two healthy, nutrient-rich herbs that can be expensive to buy repeatedly in small quantities. Luckily, there's an easy solution: Walk out of the produce department and into the garden department, where you can buy live plants for the same price. Stick them on your windowsill or patio and you'll find that these gifts keep on giving!

This simple recipe works exceptionally well with steak dishes. Just give it time to work its magic and infuse the meat with flavor!

Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 3 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 finely diced green onion
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
Directions
  1. Combine all the ingredients together and then pat into a meat and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight. Note that this recipe works exceptionally well with your steak dishes.
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 141
Total Fat 14.4 g
Total Carbs 4.8 g
Protein 0.84 g

Basil-Rosemary Marinade PDF

3
Lemon Dill Marinade

Do you hear that? Deep in your freezer, there's a tilapia filet begging to swim in this marinade. When it comes to fish, lemon and dill are perfect dance partners, especially when our old pal garlic is the DJ. Consider the tiny touch of added honey to be your reward for having eaten so many awful-tasting fish dishes in the past.

If you find fresh dill to be a bit difficult to keep from wilting, go with the dried version. Just remember that dried herbs are generally more potent than fresh—I say generally because you might have a kitchen where all the herbs date back to biblical times. If that's the case, dump the dust, treat yourself to a rack of new spices, and use about half of the amount of dried dill a recipe with fresh dill calls for.

Ingredients
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped dill or 1 tbsp dried dill
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp honey
Directions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl together and then brush over your desired food. This recipe works excellent with fish recipes but also tastes great on chicken or simply brushed over vegetables before grilling.
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 274
Total Fat 28.3 g
Total Carbs 12.1 g
Protein 1.2 g

Lemon Dill Marinade PDF

4
Dijon-Garlic Marinade

Many people find Dijon mustard to be a game-changer. Just a couple tablespoons add a massive amount of flavor to any marinade or salad dressing, and in terms of ingredients, Dijon is about as clean as it gets. Chicken is perhaps the most popular meat to pair with a Dijon marinade, but it works equally well with pork, fish, or vegetables.

Need another excuse to try this marinade? It contains coriander, which you should really have in your kitchen. Many people ignore this versatile spice because they don't know what to do with it, or because they've heard it's related to cilantro and they don't like that herb. Overcome your hesitance! Coriander's uniquely lemony, nutty flavor profile has a way of making everything it touches taste better!

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp pureed garlic (or one clove minced)
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and then brush over meat prior to grilling.
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 518
Total Fat 54.2 g
Total Carbs 8.4 g
Protein 0.4 g

Dijon-Garlic Marinade PDF

5
Metabolic Marinade

Now we're cooking! You'll need a decent selection of spices to concoct this flavor marvel, but you will be richly rewarded. You may have heard that cayenne pepper and cinnamon both have the potential to elevate your metabolism and increase fat-burning. This is true! However, if you rely on other people's cooking to get these wonder-spices, you probably get a lot of things you don't want, too.

Homemade marinades like this one are the answer! Try it on any poultry or red meat dish, and you'll wonder what took you so long. And as an added bonus, your house will smell great while it's cooking!

Ingredients
  • 1 bunch coriander (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp finely diced red pepper
Directions
  1. Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until blended. Press into the meat and let marinade for an hour or overnight.
Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 790
Total Fat 74.2 g
Total Carbs 38.5 g
Protein 9.2 g

Metabolic Marinade PDF