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Health Tips: Safe Summer Grilling

At any warm weather event – picnics, tailgating or sporting activity – it’s important to practice safe food preparation and storage, especially with ground beef products, to prevent food borne illness.

Follow these tips to keep your food fresh and you and your guests healthy:

washing hands under garden spigot

  • Wash hands before and after handling food
  • Defrost food in the refrigerator or microwave – not on the counter
  • Keep raw meats separate from ready to eat foods in your cooler
  • Keep coolers cool with plenty of ice 
  • Don’t leave foods out and without refrigeration for more than two hours. (In hot weather over 90 degrees F, the rule is no more than 1 hour). 
    • The “danger zone” for perishable picnic foods is between 40-140 degrees F. During this range, bacteria, like E coli, doubles in number ever 20 minutes.
    • Cook and grill meats to proper internal temperatures – use a meat thermometer
    • If in doubt, throw it out!

Ideas for healthy alternatives to the traditional summer BBQ:

  • Grill lean turkey burgers or Veggie burgers – spice them up by adding feta, olives, oregano and fresh parsley to your patty ingredients.
  • Veggies make good grill buddies! Marinate zucchini, peppers, corn, eggplants, and onions and toss on the grill alongside your main dish for a burst of flavor, color, and vitamins to your plate.
  • Grill "meaty" fruits like pineapple, peaches, nectarines or watermelon for a lo-cal sweet treat following your meal. These are especially good drizzled with balsamic glaze (available in most large grocery stores)

Did You Know?

Grilling is a low-fat cooking method
Grilled meats have lower fat content compared to fried because excess fat drips off and cooks away. 

Grilled foods retain more moisture.
Choose leaner cuts of meats and you'll use less fat in cooking and the food will be juicy and delicious.

Marinating meat before cooking is more healthy.
Use marinade 30 minutes before grilling. It creates a protective barrier between the protein in meat and the heat of the grill which reduces carcinogens up to 90%. That's some tasty goodness factoid!

   Try this delicious marinade recipe for steak the next time you grill:

    1 medium tomato, chopped
    1 shallot, peeled and quartered
    ¼ cup red-wine vinegar
    2 TB fresh basil, chopped
    1 TB fresh rosemary, chopped
    1 tsp season salt (reduce or omit for "Healthy Heart" version)
    ½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Blend ingredients until smooth. Place meat and ½ of marinade mixture into a large sealable plastic bag; cover and refrigerate remaining mixture. Refrigerate bagged items for 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove from bag right before grilling. Discard any leftover marinade in bag. Use saved mixture to brush on meat after cooked thoroughly.


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