I have been loving this summer weather. We are done with June and offically into July. That means lots of fun summer time activities and celebrating with cookouts and picnics. It is easy to some times think that there are not ways to include healthy foods at your next cookout. That is what I wanted to share with you today ... some creative ways to include healthy foods for your next picnic or cookout.
Fresh Produce. The summer time means there are lots of fresh produce items that are in season. Your local Farmer’s Market or even the grocery store will be filled with healthy, fresh produce options that are all starting to be in season. From the berries to watermelon, tomatoes and lettuce all of these items are now coming into season. That means that you can purchase these fresh items more locally. They will be fresher and even more delicious. I would encourage your to include all of these fresh produce items into your cookout menu. They can be raw with a fun dip or you can throw these veggies or fruit on the grill to bring out different flavors. You can make a salad and combine a variety of different produce items with a delicious dressing. Lots of these fresh produce items are easy to pack up and take with you to an event. If you are looking for some good recipes - CLICK HERE for a great list from Clean Eating Magazine.
Temperature Danger Zone. When you pack up your food to take it on a picnic or when cooking out make sure that you keep your cold food cold and your hot food hot. It has been easy for cold food to start to warm up and get in that temperature danger zone. Try to keep your food outside the range of 40-140 degrees F. When your food is within this temperature range it can become a petrie dish for bacteria to grow and potentially cause food poisoning. When you pack cold food items, use ice or ice packs and keep them in a cooler. If you are bringing hot foods or preparing hot foods on a grill, make sure that you eat them right away and don’t leave them out so they fall within that temperature zone.
Wash Your Hands. One more food safety tip, bring hand santizer. I know that sounds simplicist, but it is important to practice safe food handling, even when you are eating out at a picnic or cook out. If you are handling raw meat, ideally, use water and soap and wash your hands. Hand santizer is a good alternative, if you don’t have water and soap available. Keep your hands clean when you are preparing foods and when you are also eating food.
Stay Hydrated. If you are spending an extended time outside, make sure that you bring plenty of drinks. With this warmer weather outside now, staying hydrated is very important. If you enjoy an alcoholic drink, that is fine, but remember that may lead you to getting dehydrated faster. Bring plenty of water or other healthy beverages. Watch out for sugary drinks, because those are often filled with unneccessary calories.
Enjoy the summer and this chance to get outside and grill out. Try some new recipes and remember to keep your food at safe temperature to avoid any unwanted foodborne illness issues.