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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Shape Up Your BBQ

Memorial Day signals the start of one of the tastiest times of the year – BBQ season.  Here are a few tips to keep your BBQ spread in great shape all summer long.

Try to go with water when possible.   Tradition may dictate homemade root beer once in a while, but anytime you can avoid drinking your calories, it’s a win.

On the grill:
Meats –  Grilled meats can have elevated levels of carcinogens, so avoid excessive charring or burning, and when possible marinate your meat, poultry, etc. since the marinade will help prevent the formation of these harmful substances.
Veggies – Don’t forget to toss some veggies on the grill (marinades work great here as well).  Swapping out a portabella mushroom cap for a burger patty is amazingly delicious.  If grilling helps you increase your intake of produce – bring it on!

When it comes to salads and side dishes, remember to keep cool things cool and hot things hot.  You don’t want food poisoning to be the hallmark of your BBQ. 
Again – up the veggie and fruit content. 
Selecting seasonal produce will ensure delicious dishes while keeping nutrition high and calories low. 

Think fruit.  Whether you’ve got grilled peaches or pineapple topped with some ice cream, or a fruit plate with a salted caramel dip, try to incorporate fruit into your dessert. 

Keep your eye on the clock:
Don’t get so carried away with that killer croquet game that you forget to put your foods back in the fridge.  2 hours is the maximum time you can safely leave foods out. 

With just a few tweaks to some traditional favorites, you can savor BBQ season without sacrificing your own svelte shape.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Take Food Poisoning Off Your Summer To-Do List

Is food borne illness more prevalent in the summer?  You bet.  There are a couple reasons: First of all, bacteria and microorganisms grow faster in warmer temperatures so the heat and humidity of summer months means there are more of these organisms on people, animals, soil, air and water.  Second, we are outside more, and leaving the safety and control of a kitchen environment (sinks, controlled cooking and refrigeration) leaving bacteria to proliferate. 

Backyard BBQ tips:
·      Marinate your meat in the fridge, never on the counter. 
·      Thaw meat before grilling (frozen spots won’t get hot enough to kill bacteria when the rest of the meat is done).
·      Wash all produce.  Even if you don’t eat the peel or rind, wash it first to keep bacteria off your hands and to prevent a knife spreading it through the fruit as you cut it.  Rubbing under clean running water is the best way to wash produce.
·      Separate raw and cooked foods.  Never let anything else touch the cutting board or knife that was used to prep the raw meat, poultry or fish. 
·      165 degrees F is the magic number.  Don’t undercook.
·      Serve cold foods and salads on a bag of ice, keep them in a cooler and put all food back in the fridge within 2 hours. 

·      Prep in advance – get everything cut up, prepared and packaged before you go camping so you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination while roughing it with one cutting board.
·      Keep your coolers packed with plenty of dry and regular ice. 
·      If you have no running water, be sure to use 2 tubs of water (one hot for soapy water, and one cold for rinsing)
·      Use single-serving or squeeze bottles of condiments instead of letting everyone dip into a communal jar. 
·      When you get home throw out any leftovers that aren’t still cold. 

And when in doubt, throw it out.  It’s a lot better than throwing it up.