(Try these healthy beer recipes)
This is the time of year when beer lovers around the world celebrate Oktoberfest. Despite its name, Oktoberfest actually occurs in September—as a welcome for the October harvest.
And as I wrote in last month’s issue, beer is a natural product made from plants and yeast. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, flavonoids, and antioxidants—giving it anti-cancer, neuroprotective, estrogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.
With all of these nutrients, it’s no surprise that studies have found that a brew or two can boost the health of your brain, heart, liver, bone, and gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome.
That’s why I often encourage you to toast to good health with a tall, cold beer. But you can also gain benefits from cooking with this healthy beverage, too.
For instance, there’s evidence that cooking meat at high temperatures may cause the formation of heterocyclic amine (HCA) compounds—and some researchers pursue a theory that they may contribute to cancer. But a Portuguese study found that marinating steak in beer for six hours before cooking can eliminate nearly 90 percent of these potentially carcinogenic compounds.1
And, of course, adding beer to your marinade or other recipes also contributes to the flavor.
So, this Oktoberfest, rather than just enjoying a few beers with dinner, I invite you to toast to your health through your cooking, as well.
Here’s one of my favorite beer marinades for grilling meat or veggies, along with a recipe for one of my favorite dishes—carbonnade a la flamande. This delicious beef and beer stew is a staple of Belgian cooking (where they know a thing or two about beer), and apparently helps keep all of those European Union bureaucrats in Brussels well-fed. Enjoy!
All-purpose beer marinade for grilling2
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup Guinness extra stout beer
- 3 cloves garlic, grated
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 12 hours (depending on how much flavor you want) before grilling. Grill as you normally would (and remember to keep some marinade for basting, which also adds extra flavor).
Carbonnade a la flamande (beef and beer stew)3
- 3- 1/2 lbs organic, grass-fed chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp butter, divided in half
- 3 medium yellow onions sliced about 1/4 inch thick (about 8 cups)
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1- 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth
- 1- 1/2 cups (12 oz bottle) Belgian beer
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper. On the stovetop, heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large Dutch oven (with apologies to the Belgians) over medium-high heat until hot, almost smoking. Working in batches, brown the meat, about 3 minutes on each side (don’t stir; allow the meat to brown well). Transfer the browned beef to a separate bowl.
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the Dutch oven; reduce heat to medium. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt; cook until onions are browned, about 15 minutes. Add the flour, and stir until the onions are evenly coated and the flour is lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, scraping the pan bottom to loosen browned bits; stir in beer, thyme, bay leaves, and browned beef. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Increase heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full simmer. Then reduce heat to low, partially cover the Dutch oven, and let the mixture cook 2-3 hours until the beef is fork-tender. (You can also cook in the oven at 300°F.) About 30 minutes before the mixture is finished cooking, add the mustard and brown sugar.
You can serve this dish on its own or over potatoes (see page 7) or organic, whole-grain noodles. The type of beer you used in the recipe also makes a great accompanying beverage to go with it.
1“Effect of beer/red wine marinades on the formation of heterocyclic aromatic amines in pan-fried beef.” J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Nov 26;56(22):10625-32.