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How Long Should You Marinate Your Food?

How Long Should You Marinate Your Food?

Have you ever reached for a favorite recipe to find that it requires you marinate the chicken overnight? You had to rule out that recipe as an option for the evening and need to rethink your plans. This question may have popped into your head: is it necessary to marinate food and for how long exactly?

Should you bother to marinate your meat overnight, or skip it entirely?

I advise that you try your recipe with the marinade anyway, because even a few minutes sitting in a marinade can greatly enhance the flavor of your ingredients.

That marinade will also improve the texture. Chicken thighs marinated will seem more succulent and juicy than regular chicken thigh fillets.

So should marinating really take hours? It doesn’t have to, but if you have the time, there are two primary reasons to consider marinades: They add flavor and they tenderize the meat.

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Here are some further tips for delicious and safe marinating.

1. Marinating doesn’t have to be complicated.

The best marinades are often very simple, some oil and vinegar or lemon juice will do. Herbs, spices or garlic can add interest, but aren’t essential.

2. Use “non-reactive” containers.

You should mix your marinade in a glass or ceramic bowl and toss the meat in. Metal or plastic containers are best avoided. You could also use a zip lock bag because it’s a great way to get lots of contact between the marinade and the surface of the food, but I often worry about plastic leaching into food.

3. Know when to refrigerate.

If you’re going to cook right away, just leave the marinating ingredients sit while you get ready to cook. However, if you’re not going to be cooking for a few hours or longer, do cover and refrigerate.

4. Cook or discard any used marinade.

You can use the leftover marinade for a sauce. If a marinade has been used for raw food, definitely discard it or boil vigorously for at least 5 minutes before using as a sauce.

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5. Consider a “post-cooking” marinade.

This works when you’re short on time because you can get the food on to cook and mix up your marinade or sauce while it cooks. The post-cooking technique works well for meat because as it rests in the marinade, the juices combine with the marinade to make a delicious sauce. Try cooking a steak then drizzling over lemon juice and olive oil while it rests.

Marinating is also a wonderful way to add flavor to grilled or barbecued vegetables. Try tossing grilled zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant in a post-cooking marinade of one part balsamic vinegar and three parts oil spiked with a clove of garlic and some chopped rosemary. Just remember to remove the raw garlic before serving.

In the recipe below, you can get the same great harissa marinade flavor merely by applying the harissa to the meat before it goes into the pan. If you have time to marinate, do go ahead.

Harissa is a hot spice paste from Morocco and Tunisia. You can buy it in tubes from a good deli. I usually cook my steaks at a very high heat, but I find it’s better to use a more gentle heat here to keep the harissa from burning.

Harissa Steaks with Yogurt Sauce

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Harissa Steak by Jules Clancy

    Serves 2

    2 steaks, trimmed

    2-4 tablespoons harissa

    6-8 tablespoons natural yogurt

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    3-4 handfuls baby spinach

    1. Heat a frying pan or BBQ on a medium high heat.

    2. Combine harissa with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Taste and if it’s not hot enough add more harissa. Toss steaks in the harissa mixture.

    3. Sear steaks for 2-3 minutes each side or until well browned and cooked to your liking.

    4. Season yogurt with salt and pepper and divide between 2 serving plates. Top with steaks and baby spinach leaves.

    Featured photo credit: Jules Clancy via flic.kr

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    Last Updated on July 2, 2020

    Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally)

    Simple Hacks on How to Relieve Neck Pain Fast (and Naturally)

    There is very little in life as annoying or distracting as neck pain. Most people find that neck pain is temporary. What can you do if your neck pain seems chronic or if it comes and goes with no obvious source?

    Whether you have simply slept on your neck wrong or you are working late, hunched over a keyboard half the night, neck pain is, well, a pain in the neck!

    What most people are unaware of is that there are little known hacks that can help you find relief from neck pain fast and naturally. This means no pills or expensive exercise equipment to buy.

    How can you get relief from neck pain?

    There are several easy steps to follow to find the perfect hack for solving your neck pain fast and easy.

    How Did I End Up With This Pain in the Neck?

    Neck pain often has an I-was-looking-right-at-it source that we don’t recognize at first glance. Once you identify the source of the pain, you can take the best corrective measure, or several measures if need be!

    Ask yourself these questions to find a possible source:

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    • Do you spend much of the day sitting (desk job, typing, etc.)?
    • How old are your mattress and pillow?
    • How much exercise do you work into an average day?
    • How do you manage stress?
    • Have you been injured or in an accident (no matter how small) lately?

    Perhaps one last question to ask yourself might be, “Is my pain a regular occurrence, or is my neck pain something that has just cropped up?

    Once you know the answers to these questions, you can start searching for answers.

    Remedies for Neck Pain

    Once you know the source, try tapping into one (or several) of these solutions to start healing your neck pain now.

    1. Everyday Activities

    One of the important factors with neck pain will be your everyday activities. Other than an injury or accident, one of the largest factors for neck pain includes working overtime in an office and the stress that work entails[1].

    Due to the coronavirus, many people find themselves working from home, in kitchens, basements, using a barstool, and/or other equipment that was not designed for humans to spend hours on end, typing and looking at a computer screen.

    If you find that your neck pain has occurred during the past few months due to a job change, or if you suddenly began working from home, your issue may be due to ergonomics. Invest in an adjustable office chair to help make your workspace more neck-friendly.

    2. Age of Mattress and Pillow

    The age of your mattress and pillow should also be considered. Pillows, on average, should be changed every 3 years, and a mattress every 7-10 years. No matter how good or comfortable you think these items are, the truth is that they are hurting your neck and back with a lack of support.

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    A good mattress is well worth the investment, and pillows are always on sale, as well as wallet-friendly. If you haven’t tried them, a water-filled pillow can be comfortable for many people.

    3. Exercise/Movement/Stretching

    It’s that old exercise question that no one wants to hear. This time around, it has been difficult for many people to get in good exercise since they have been housebound due to the quarantine. There are plenty of ways to get in some good, old-fashioned exercise.

    Stretching exercises are even more important than before since many people do not get enough movement while sitting at home. There are hundreds of at-home exercise, dance, and yoga videos that require little to no equipment, so even if you’re a beginner, give it a go.

    4. Stress and Stress Management

    Stress is a hidden danger that robs more people of health than even most doctors realize. While everyone has stress, not everyone recognizes it, nor do they have a means of managing it. Exercise is one of the best ways to release stress, with meditation and yoga being the best ways to manage and relieve stress. All of these will remove tightness in the muscles and relieve neck pain.

    5. Accident or Injury

    If you have been involved in an accident or injured yourself lately (falling down, or having something fall on you, for example) and your neck pain began after this incident, you should speak with your doctor about this as soon as possible.

    6. On-Going Problem or Sudden Occurrence

    Finally, if your neck pain is something that has occurred recently, it could simply be that you slept on it wrong or turned your neck too hard. That will make this a very temporary condition. You can try some easy stretches for pain relief .

    An on-going problem, however, might respond better to some other alternative methods, including:

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    • Slowly moving and stretching your neck. Do not move too quickly or too far. Roll your head from side to side, shoulder to shoulder, to the front and to the back.
    • Ice packs work well for some people, while heat works best for others.
    • Be aware of how you use your cell phone or tablet. If you keep your neck bent downward for too long to look at it, you can develop an annoying pain called text-neck or tech-neck. Take breaks and look up to stretch those neck muscles.
    • Long hours driving can also be hard on the neck. Look from side to side as far as you can, as well as up and down to prevent a stiff neck.

     

    Still Have Tight Neck Muscles? 3 Tips for Finding Relief

    When tight neck muscles are not responding to the typical heat, ice, or massage treatments, you might want to give the following a try:

    1. Gua Sha

    This is an ancient Chinese practice that might seem a bit odd, but it works for many people. In this practice, a trained individual uses a spoon or other object and makes short strokes down the neck. It is believed that poor blood circulation causes it to become stagnant, if you will, and blocks the positive energy needed for life, called qi.

    Fresh blood will indeed allow oxygen and nutrients to feed the tissues in a given area, and one study found that gua sha worked where traditional methods, such as heat therapy, did not[2].

    2. Swimming

    You probably know that swimming is a terrific low-impact exercise that works wonders for those with back and knee pain, but did you know that it also works well for neck pain and tight muscles? It helps if the water is tepid and not cold, but even just floating on your back can offer tremendous relief since most of the body weight is suspended by the buoyancy of water.

    3. Chiropractic Massage

    Not your typical day spa massage, chiropractic massage is performed under the guidance of a chiropractor. A trained massage therapist will still do the massage, but this time, the chiropractor will have discussed your neck pain and any problems you might be having with them. Many people have found real relief from neck pain through chiropractic massage.

    The Best Treatment for Neck Pain

    When you need to find relief from neck pain and nothing you have tried previously seems to give you more than a few minutes of relief, spending some time with a chiropractor often times can fix this issue, and it doesn’t often return if you follow a healthy lifestyle.

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    I’m certain that many of you are thinking about those awful videos with those loud cracking noises you’ve seen on social media, or you are recalling a news story which might have suggested that allowing a chiropractor anywhere near your neck might be a health hazard[3]. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    You should try the other suggestions in this article before you head off to the chiropractor, but when all else fails, don’t let neck pain nag you day in and day out. Take steps to make an appointment, and you will be surprised at the results.

    What Can a Chiropractor Do for Neck Pain?

    Many people mistakenly believe that the only technique a chiropractor will use is a neck adjustment. Chiropractors are trained in a variety of methods that are designed to help you find the pain relief you are seeking.

    A few of the methods a chiropractor might use include:

    • Cervical Manual Traction
    • Flexion-Distraction
    • Cervical Mobilization
    • Ultrasound
    • Cervical Drop Technique
    • Trigger Point Therapy

    There are many more options, but your chiropractor should explain to you which techniques s/he intends to use and why[4]

    The Bottom Line

    If neck pain wreaks havoc in your life regularly, the best way to stop it is to identify the source and attack it from that angle.

    Getting plenty of exercises, having a proper posture, and buying an office chair that provides plenty of support, as well as a regular stretching program, will keep your neck strong and flexible for many years to come.

    More Tips on Healing Neck Pain

    Featured photo credit: Christopher Campbell via unsplash.com

    Reference

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