Nutrition Corner: Get your grill ready for spring season

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret -

Spring has sprung and the days are now getting warmer. Some of us may be thinking of spending more time outdoors. Cooking outdoors with the barbeque grill may involve hamburgers and hot dogs. However, are you concerned about eating more saturated fats because of cooking these foods on the grill?

The USDA Dietary Guidelines states in the 2000 Calorie level, Healthy US style Eating Pattern, that protein foods should equal 5 ½ oz. per day. It further breaks that down into these three components: seafood, 8 oz. per week; meats, poultry and eggs 26 oz. per week; and nuts, seeds and soy products 5 oz. per week. Lean beef is a part of the 26 oz. of meats, poultry and eggs per week.

Two cuts of beef that are very lean are top sirloin and eye round. Look for those cuts with the words “loin” and “round” in them to ensure you are selecting the leanest cuts of beef. There are three grades — prime, choice and select. If you want lean cuts of meats with less saturated fat, choose “select.” That is the leanest.

Prime has the most amount of internal marbling. You will find prime meats at specialty markets and high-end restaurants. Choice meats has less marbling than prime but more than the select grade. This type is the most widely available grade served in restaurants and sold in grocery stores.

Select grades are the leanest. They tend to be less juicy and need a marinade to tenderize. Once marinated, they can be just as tender as the other grades.

Raw meat can contaminate ready-to-eat foods. Place all raw meats in a plastic bag to reduce any change of raw meat juices to contaminate other foods in your grocery cart. Place on the bottom rack of the shopping cart. While grocery shopping, save meats until the last to place in your cart. This will keep them as cold as possible.

Next, place all cold foods in a cooler to keep cold while traveling home.

Once you get home, store meats in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Plan to use 1 to 2 days or freeze in the original package for freezer storage. If longer than two weeks, wrap the meat again in heavy-duty foil or a freezer bag.

When planning to cook, take the meat out of the freezer one to two days before planning to use. Place on the lower shelf of the refrigerator on a plate of tray to catch any juices.

Select meats are the less tender cuts. They also contain less marbling of fat throughout the piece of meat and are not as juicy. For these types of lean cuts of beef, use a tenderizing marinade and tenderize for six to 24 hours. Tenderizing marinades contain an acid like lemon juice and vinegars.

Here is a recipe for an easy to make marinade. Remember to discard marinade that has touched raw meats. Enjoy!

Herb Beef Marinade

¼-cup onion chopped

2 tablespoons parsley

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1-teaspoon fresh garlic, minced, or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon basil, dried

Mix onion, parsley, vinegar, mustard, garlic powder and basil. Place meat in food grade plastic bag and pour in marinade. Close the bag securely, place in a bowl and marinate in refrigerator six to eight hours or overnight, turning at least once. Pour off marinade and discard. Broil or grill meat to 160 medium or 170 well done.

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at