The sun is starting to shine here in Detroit and we are gearing up for barbecues, picnics and pool parties packed with indulgent food and sweets. Check out some of my summer survival tips to help ensure your soiree does not jeopardize your health and nutrition goals. Stay cool!
BURGERS & DOGS Swap your traditional carb-packed hamburger bun for easily digestible sprouted grains. Kale or romaine lettuce leaves make great wraps, or dare to go bunless entirely! Impress your guests while getting a dose of beta carotene and fiber by grilling sweet potatoes and using them in place of a bun.
When barbecuing, consider cleaning up your protein options. Choose hot dogs and burgers that are organic, grass-fed, antibiotic- and hormone-free, non-GMO and made without nitrates, nitrites and fillers.
Like your meat chargrilled and burnt? Think again. According to the National Cancer Institute, heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are chemicals formed when muscle meat, including beef, pork, fish or poultry, is cooked using high-temperature methods. This could be pan frying or grilling directly over an open flame. In lab experiments, these have been found to cause changes in DNA that may increase the risk of cancer. Reduce your risk by keeping your meat off open flames and avoiding prolonged cooking times, especially at high temperatures. Aim to continuously turn meat over and remove any charred portions prior to chowing down.
SUMMER SNACKS You may be tempted to reach for a salty snack while lounging on the beach. Try swapping potato chips for high-fiber dry-roasted lentils or air-popped popcorn. If you’re looking to add crunch to your meal, sprinkle cayenne pepper on your raw veggies. Crudite are easy to pack, portable and pair well with individual pre-portioned containers of hummus or guacamole.
Need to beat the heat with an ice-cold drink? Ditch the sugary soda for naturally sweetened coconut water or try water infused with your favorite summer fruits.
Eat the rainbow with fruit kabobs. Use bright, colorful fruits to create skewers bursting with flavor and nutrition. Different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs can be found in produce of varying colors.
If you dream of ice cream, try blending frozen bananas to create a homemade treat that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Add peanut butter or sunflower-seed butter for a creamy, nutrient-dense dessert.
Pop red or green grapes in the freezer and kick back by the pool with a good book and a bowl of these icy delights. They’re a refreshing and fun treat for both kids and adults.
SUMMER FOOD SAFETY Remember to keep a clean cooking environment to guarantee that this year’s barbecue is the best yet. Here are some tips from the USDA to ensure that harmful bacteria doesn’t stick around to cause foodborne illness.
Cook with fresh meat — freeze immediately raw meat that won’t be used within the first two days of purchase.
Go right home from the grocery store to put your perishables in the refrigerator.
Thaw and marinate meat in the refrigerator rather than on the countertop.
Wash hands before and after handling raw meat.
Use separate utensils and dishes for raw and cooked meat.
Start and end with a clean grill or cooking surface.
Clean your barbecue thoroughly after each use.
Time to dig in, right? Not so fast. It’s important to note what time you put your food outside. According to foodsafety.gov, perishable foods should not be left out for more than two hours. If it’s an especially hot day, easily spoiled foods should not sit out for more than one hour. If you arrive after the food has been served, it is not uncouth to ask your host what time the food was put out. Turning down second helpings may require willpower, but sure beats food poisoning!
If you’re taking a refrigerated or perishable summer snack on the go, always pack food in an insulated cooler with ice packs to keep refrigerated items cold. After your long beach day, clean your cooler thoroughly with water, a mild detergent and rinse well. Throw out all empty baggies and garbage immediately. Don’t wait until your next adventure to clean your cooler, as bacteria waits for no one.
Staying healthy in the summer may seem like a daunting task. Yet, simple easy steps and swaps may lead to a healthier you. You will be glowing on the inside and out this season.