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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Campfire Nutrition

Camping is a fun way to get away from the routine and pace of everyday life that can be a relaxing and healthy outing with the family.  You don’t want to come home from spending time in the great outdoors with garbage gut so here are some ways to keep the yum factor and the nutrition factor high on your next camping trip that are just as great in the backyard as in the mountains. 

The same nutrition rules apply: drink water, incorporate lots of produce, and minimize processed foods.

·      Omelets in a bag.  In a freezer strength, zip-top bag crack a couple eggs add some chopped veggies, a dash of salt and pepper and possibly a sprinkle of cheese.  Close securely; squish the bag and place in a pot of boiling water.  Boil for 10-15 minutes.  Serve with a whole grain English muffin toasted over the fire and some fresh fruit. 
·      Oatmeal.  Individual packets are very convenient for camping.  Be sure to choose unsweetened oatmeal and then after adding some boiling water, everyone can flavor their own oatmeal to taste with dried or fresh fruit, nuts and honey.  Add a serving of fruit and wash it down with some milk (shelf-stable is great for camping). 
·      Sandwich or salad fixings are ideal for camping and the veggies can serve a dual purpose by moonlighting as a side for dinner, or an addition to a tinfoil dinner.  Don’t forget lots of veggies, fruits and plenty of water.  If your family would riot without some sort of chips, choose ones with a simple ingredient list and keep the portion sizes in check by choosing pre-portioned bags or portioning your own before you leave. 
·      Tinfoil dinner.  Excellent and tasty way to incorporate lots of veggies into a meal.  Load up on a variety of delicious veggies (sweet or white potatoes, corn on the cob chunks, onions, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, celery, even spinach or chard) then add some lean protein (try a mix of beans for a vegetarian option), then season it up without overdoing the salt by using strong flavors like onion or garlic powder, smoked paprika, chipotle pepper, or your favorite herbs.
·      Hotdogs.  Choose your dog wisely – going with nitrite free, lower sodium options and putting it on a whole-grain bun, help keep the nutrition high.  Make sure to round the meal out with some tasty salad, fruit or fresh veggies. 

·      Baked apples.  Carve the core out of an apple, fill it with some trail mix or any leftover oatmeal topping from breakfast, wrap it in foil and toss it in the coals for 30 or so minutes. 

·      S’mores.  Sometimes s’mores just have to happen or else the camping trip isn’t complete.  If this is the case for you, avoid extra jumbo marshmallows and stick with traditional sized ones.  Try to use a whole grain graham cracker – 2 g fiber per serving, and go with a darker chocolate that will be higher in fiber and lower in sugar.  The key is portion control.  Saving s’mores for after the meal will help keep this traditional camping dessert from derailing the healthiness of your camping experience.

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.