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This Summer, Fire Up a Healthier BBQ

8 Tips to a healthier BBQ.

Summer is the best, with warm weather, longer days, shorts, t-shirts, sundresses and of course, picnics and cookouts with great food. You might be worried that all of the invitations to backyard BBQs will make it hard to keep your healthy dining habits on track. But never fear, Mindful has some tips to help you glide through the summer with ease and enjoy every gathering.

BYOH – Bring your own health.
The best way to ensure you have a healthy choice at a potluck picnic is to bring it yourself. It can be something simple, like a fresh salad or a fruit tray with low-fat dip.  Or you can bust out your culinary moves and wow everyone with an entrée like Ellie Krieger’s Asian Noodle Salad or Bulgogi Beef Skewers with Jasmine Rice. You can break out of the boring side dish rut with Smoked Salmon Spring Rolls, and everyone will love the Kid-Friendly Turkey Mac-and-Cheese.  You’ll set yourself up for success when you bring healthy dishes, and the great flavor will have your friends and guests asking for the recipe!

Have snacks, will travel.
When you’re traveling, pack healthy on-the-go snacks to take with you so you’re not relying on what that roadside convenience store offers. Good options include trail mix, fresh vegetables, whole-grain crackers or fresh fruit. If you’re flying, remember that the TSA rules about liquids apply to food too!

Stay safe.
No one wants a party where food poisoning is a guest. Keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold. The rule of thumb is that if you would store a dish in the refrigerator, then it should not be kept out for more than two hours – even less on hot days, because bacteria loves sunshine.

Be a stickler about food safety when you thaw meat. Always do it in the refrigerator or microwave and never on the counter or outside. Avoid cross-contamination with other foods by washing your hands thoroughly after handling meat. 

Everyone likes their burgers at various levels of “doneness,” but safety is key. Use a food thermometer to ensure meat has reached a safe internal temperature. Hamburgers should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Be especially careful with chicken, which should be no less than 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re serving a lot of chicken, consider baking it in the oven first, then using the grill to add those appetizing grill marks. This method is much juicier, much safer and a lot easier on the cook!

Snack on the best of summer’s bounty.
Watermelon is in season and can help satisfy your sweet tooth and keep you healthier. A fully ripened watermelon provides significantly higher levels of lycopene and beta-carotene, giving you anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits. To pick the best watermelon, look for one that’s heavy for its size with a smooth and dull rind. The “underbelly” or “ground spot” should be a creamy yellow color for peak ripeness and optimal nutritional benefits.

Hydrate. Feel great.
Don’t forget to drink plenty of water on those hot summer days. Add fresh citrus fruits or some frozen berries for a little twist to your traditional beverage. Want an extra-refreshing treat, use sparkling water to turn your drink into a spritzer!

Change up flavor by changing up your cooking method.
You’ll discover a new flavor profile of your favorite vegetables when you grill them. Make vegetable kabobs with an assortment of bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini and squash. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then grill to a tender crisp.

Spice up your salad!
Tired of your typical fruit salad? Add local honey, fresh mint and vanilla bean next time for a nice punch of freshness and flavor.

Add flavor the salt-free way.
Fresh herbs are a great way to enhance flavor in your dishes without adding sodium. Not only do herbs taste great, they also contain disease-fighting antioxidants. Try adding fresh cilantro to your next salad, or fresh mint to your sparkling lemon water.

If you’re looking for an idea on any of these tips, check out the recipes on Mindful’s website – they’re a must-try this summer!

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