As a self-professed steak snob, there’s nothing better than a mouth-watering steak dinner. My husband grills the most delectable steaks and has forever spoiled me from ordering one at a restaurant. The best part, he’s perfected a health-conscious way of grilling them using a rosemary marinade.
The secret to how to grill a healthy steak consists of:
The controversy over red meat rages on!
We’ve all heard the stories how red meat is the cause of heart disease and a multitude of other ailments. Popular advice is to eat fish or the white meats such as chicken. The dilemma, what if you really enjoy a juicy steak once in a while?
The good news, in moderation, red meat may not be nearly as bad as we’ve been led to believe. In fact, it’s processed meats that are the real culprit. They have about four times more salt and preservatives.
Researchers found processed meats were associated with a 42% increased risk of heart disease and 19% greater risk of diabetes. Actually, red meat is healthy and doesn’t increase risk of heart disease.
WHEW!!! What a relief! Now, let's address the question of how to grill a healthy steak.
Grilled Steak Tips
We even made a video on grilled steak tips. How to prepare the marinade and you gotta see the sizzling sear!! The grill was 460° F. That steak was just incredible - so juicy and tender!!
Choosing Your Steak
I used to believe a leaner cut of beef was better for you. Sort of makes sense, you're avoiding all that saturated fat. A woman on a mission, I set out to prove my theory.
What I found threw my theory into a tail spin. It really didn’t matter!
Is the Fat on Steak Bad for You?
The most tender and flavorful steaks have fat marbled throughout the meat. These are the ones you can cut with a fork and literally melt in your mouth! How could anything that tastes so darn good be bad for you?
For years, everyone's been led to believe red meat was unhealthy. All those “saturated fats” were the cause of high cholesterol and heart disease. An interesting article by Healthline debunks this.
Although the fat is about twice as high in calories, it’s not the demon we were led to believe. As mentioned above, this surprised me. Even so, we still trim off any excess fat on the edges prior to grilling.
In his younger days, my husband prided himself on devouring a massive slab of meat (32 ounces or more). That was when he was young and foolish, and before meeting me!
On a more serious note, now, we plan balanced meals with more sensible portions. Often, we’ll share a steak with each of us eating 4-6 ounces.
Selecting steak isn’t a health decision as much as availability, preference and your budget. For that “cut with a fork” steak experience, it’s going to cost more. Just like most things in the world, you get what you pay for.
The following list ranks the best cuts of steak from most expensive to more affordable:
The less expensive cuts of beef have more gristle and a tougher texture. Not included are blade or flank steaks which I’d sooner slow cook or braise.
That reminds me of a joke from our Witty Retirement Jokes.
First, a marinade with rosemary, in my opinion, adds a wonderful flavor. Rosemary is an herb from the mint family and adds a hint of a “piney” taste. This beautifully compliments the heavy meatiness and marbled fat often associated with beef.
Secondly, rosemary has proven health benefits when grilling meat.
What Happens on the Grill?
When meat is cooked at high temperatures (above 300°), toxins can form. These are called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). That wonderful tasty singe is actually really bad for you, especially any crispy charred areas.
HCAs occur when the amino acids and creatinine in meat react at high temperatures. PAHs form from any smoke created, such as from fat drippings and flare-ups on a grill. This isn’t limited to beef and can occur with pork, poultry and fish.
According to the National Cancer Institute, these may be associated with increased risk of cancer including colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer.
The Magical Health Benefits of Rosemary
Rosemary has antioxidants which help keep these carcinogens from forming.
According to research from Pubmed, levels of HCAs were significantly reduced using rosemary extract. A further study by the University of Arkansas confirmed reductions ranging from 30 to 100%.
The findings stated the higher the temperature and length of time on the grill were the greatest determiners in the formation of carcinogens. Additional studies suggest a rosemary marinade can reduce HCAs by as much as 90%!!
Rosemary Marinade Recipe
I’m not aware of ever seeing a rosemary marinade at the supermarket. What we’ve done is make our own healthy marinade using avocado oil, fresh rosemary, garlic and ground pepper.
You can let the steaks marinate overnight or put it on in the morning. They’ll be ready and perfect for dinner.
We’ve found this simple to make marinade adds flavor to any grilled meat. We also use it on pork, chicken and hamburgers. Some of our thoughts are:
Clean Grilling Surface
We used to religiously scrape and scrub the barbecue grill. So much effort to get all that burnt residue off! After understanding the HCAs, the last thing you’d want is for that residue to contaminate your beautiful cut of meat.
For us, an easier option is using a cast-iron frying skillet with grilling ribs. When searing at high heat, we get grill marks with zero risk of flare-ups. Plus, the pan is a lot easier to clean!
We’ve found this to be the best way on how to grill a healthy steak.
High Heat to Sear the Steak
Take your marinated steaks out of the fridge and place on a counter. After about 30 minutes they’ll be at room temperature and ready to sear.
The healthier way of grilling steak with rosemary marinade requires minimizing the amount of time at high heat. What we want to do is sear both sides to seal-in the juices. This also browns and crisps the outside.
The grill / pan needs to be pre-heated until scorching hot, anywhere from 400 to 500° F.
We’ll share two methods, using a barbecue or cooking inside.
Outdoors on a Barbecue
As mentioned above, our preference is to use a cast-iron frying pan. Alternatively, you can sear the steaks directly on the grill.
Indoors on a Stove
When you don’t have a barbecue or prefer to grill indoors.
Lower Temperature Cooking to Desired Wellness
A thin fast-fry type of steak might be almost done. For thicker cuts that are an inch or more, the inside will still be uncooked. Completing the grilling at a lower temperature minimizes the chances of toxins developing and gives more control over how well done the meat is.
On the barbecue, we turn the heat to the lowest setting. When cooking indoors, we’ll bake in the oven at 200° F. Your cooking time will vary depending upon the thickness of the steak and how well done you prefer it.
A meat thermometer with a thin probe is the best way to check your steak(s). When you’re 5° from your desired wellness, remove from heat and tent with tin foil. The meat will continue to cook for a short period.
Healthy Alternatives to Go with a Steak Dinner
Some options to go with a healthy, balanced meal might include:
Concluding Thoughts on How to Grill a Healthy Steak
While there are scores of recipes on cooking steaks, hardly anyone mentions anything on how to grill steak. At our ages, we should probably be paying more attention to what we eat.
Even several years ago, we used to just toss them on the grill and slather them with BBQ sauce. The more grill marks the better, as long as things didn’t flare up too bad.
It’s embarrassing to admit how completely oblivious we were to all the carcinogens and what we were doing to ourselves. Only by chance did we stumble across the many benefits of rosemary.
Besides being way healthier, if anything, our grilled masterpieces are more flavorful and delicious. As mentioned earlier, my husband has ruined me from ordering one at a restaurant. No steak will ever be as delicious as the one he grills!