This Summer, Fire Up Healthier BBQ Choices

Here are some tips to enjoy the best of summer

Ah, summer. Longer days to enjoy, shorts to wear, and lots of picnics to give us reasons to celebrate with food. This time of year inspires plenty of reasons to be more mindful of what you eat and to stay healthy so you can enjoy those warm nights and well-deserved vacations!

BYOH – Bring your own health.

To ensure you’ll have a healthy option at your family’s potluck picnic, bring a healthy choice, such as fresh salad, fruit tray with low-fat dip, or quinoa salad. You are setting yourself up for success and it will look like you care about the health of the guests as well. It’s a win-win!

Have snacks, will travel.

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile, make sure to pack healthy on-the-go snacks to take with you so you don’t grab a less-than-ideal choice. Good options include trail mix, fresh vegetables, whole-grain crackers or fresh fruit.

Mind your meats.

Reduce your risk of food poisoning during these hot summer months by properly thawing your meats. Always thaw them in the refrigerator or microwave—never outside in the hot sun.

Check your temp.

Use a food thermometer to ensure meat has reached a safe internal temperature. Hamburgers should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit and chicken should be no less than 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

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.

Tip: 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.

Want to discover a new flavor profile of your favorite vegetables? Try grilling 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. A must-try this summer!

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.

by Jackie Sharp, MS, RDN, LD, ACSM-HFS
Wellness Director, SodexoMAGIC, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
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