Potlucks and Picnics and Barbecues, Oh My! – Fresh Tastes by Bev

By Bev Laumann, Author of A Taste of The Good Life: A Cookbook for IC & OAB


Summer is a great time for al fresco dining and what could be more American than the Fourth of July barbecue in the park? We have a wide variety of foods that are both IC safe and are extra tasty when grilled. Steaks of course, are traditional. Our only problem might be an acid or preservative-ridden marinade. But we can easily get around that one. Here are three different approaches to flavorful grilled porterhouse steaks.

Steaks with Herb Butter

– serves 6-8

  • 8 Tbsp. softened stick margarine
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  1. With a fork or in a food processor, combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Place the mixture on a piece of wax paper and roll up, twisting the ends to seal. This will form the mixture into a log shape that can be easily sliced. Refrigerate for 1-1/2 to 3 hours. Season steaks with salt (and pepper if desired) and grill until done. Slice off about one tablespoon of the refrigerated herb mixture and place on top of the hot steaks right before serving.

Herb-Rubbed Steaks

– serves 4

  • 4 porterhouse steaks
  • 1/2 tsp. onion salt
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp. finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger (optional)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  1. Rinse the steaks under running water. Then with a fork, pierce the moist steaks thoroughly on both sides. Mix the spice ingredients in a small dish. Rub or pound the ingredients into the steaks then place the steaks in a plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight. To cook, scrape about half to three-quarters of the spices off the meat, then grill as usual.

Do-it-yourself Marinades

Marinades for meat are usually made with at least one acid ingredient. The acid tenderizes the tough meat fibers as well as lends some flavor. One benefit of marinades is that they have been shown to inhibit the formation of cancer-causing compounds on the surface of the meat as it is grilled. To get this benefit, you don’t have to marinate the meat very long. Fifteen minutes or so will do the trick. For people with IC, a short marinade time will also cut down on the
amount of acid that seeps deeply into the meat and could possibly affect your bladder. (If you avoid the tenderizing benefits of acid marinades, then be sure to get a tender cut of meat to begin with).

Another problem with marinades is that most of the commercially prepared ones have bladder irritating preservatives. Manufacturers are adding more acid and more preservatives to their products these days and are pasteurizing products that didn’t used to be pasteurized. This is to protect the consumer against possible deadly effects of bacterial contamination. With virulent strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria becoming increasingly commonplace, the US government has deemed prevention of infection as a priority– which means that concerns about the preservatives will take a back seat to consumer protection when it comes to federal regulations. If you marinate your meat before grilling, especially if you use a commercially prepared marinade, you may want to rinse off excess marinade before cooking.

Below is the recipe for one of my favorite light marinades. It tenderizes the meat quite well but the acid doesn’t bite my tender bladder. (I believe that is both because of the amount of acid and the kind of acid this marinade contains.) I let the meat soak about an hour. If my bladder is flaring up, I drain off most of the marinade before cooking. Otherwise I just cook the meat with plenty of marinade. It has a very light mild flavor that lets the meat flavor come through. This recipe has much less acid than many bottled prepared marinades and even less than some home made versions. It doesn’t bother my bladder but you may be more acid-sensitive, so try this with caution. Also, beware of sesame seeds if you need a low-oxalate diet.

Basic Sesame Marinade

– for 2 steaks

  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/2 cup unflavored Sparkling water (such as Perrier)
  • 1/2 cup light sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp distilled vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp. honey
  1. Combine all ingredients, pour over the steaks. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
    For more robust flavor, add some or all of the following: garlic powder, minced garlic, black pepper, chopped chives or onion rings (remove onion and discard before cooking meat).

Bottled Marinades

Lastly there is the option of trying to find all-natural commercial products with no preservatives. Consorzio Foods of Napa, California makes a “Lemon Pepper 10-minute Marinade” that is delicious as well as preservative-free and MSG-free. Their line of products are carried by some large national supermarket chains including Albertsons, Safeway and several others (as of July or August Wal-Mart super centers across the country will also carry it).

Natural food markets carry this brand and some others worth trying. Look in your phone book under “health”, “health & diet food”, or “natural foods” for stores that carry preservative-free products.