Labor Day and the grill is ready for some action.
The traditional weekend that unofficially marks the end of summer is here and we want to make the most of it!
Grilling a family favorite meal to share has become a common way to spend the holiday.
Did you know that the word barbecue is derived from a Taino (Caribbean) word meaning sacred fire pit? It sounds about right.
Grilling has become big time with the size of the grill, the types of food cooked, and the frequency with which we fire it up booming!
The best part of grilling is the way we can create so many healthy foods.
Most people grill hamburgers, with steak and chicken close behind. Hot dogs are also a family favorite to burn…I mean cook on the open fire. On the side we love potato and macaroni salad and coleslaw.
Who doesn’t love watermelon to refresh us while we play in the summer heat?
Tips for healthier BBQ items
Whether you cook on your own grill in the backyard or make a picnic in your favorite park or beach location, enjoying healthy foods is a choice for families.
There are many high fat and high calorie foods we may fall back on when we celebrate the holiday with others, but we all need to make small changes for our health.
Here are some easy ways you can choose health at the BBQ!
- Marinated coleslaw instead of mayonnaise soaked cabbage
- Veggie burgers
- Grilled fresh fruit
- Kabobs — mix protein with fresh vegetables
- Ground turkey instead of beef in your burgers
- Substitute leaner cuts of steak
- Make veggie dip with yogurt or avocado in place of sour cream
- Add in some broccoli slaw into the traditional coleslaw mix to pump up the veggies
- Used spiral veggies in place of pasta in salads
- Make wraps using spinach tortillas or greens (butter or red leaf lettuce, flat collards, or kale) instead of burgers, using grilled skinless chicken instead of fried chicken or pork loin and adding on julienne veggies for more color and crunch
Food Safety and Grilling
Grilling at home or away should begin the same way all your food preparation does, with proper hand washing.
If you are taking the picnic on the road, don’t forget to bring a way to clean hands and surfaces with you.
We know that we need to keep the cold foods on ice throughout the day, but do you remember to keep the leftovers cooled, especially when the temperature hovers around 90 degrees outside?
Food should not sit out more than one hour on a hot day. Bacteria can grow quickly and contaminate your leftovers when food is in the temperature danger zone too long.
Don’t reuse your marinade on your cooked food. It could contain raw juices and pathogens to spread foodborne illness to your guests.
Check the internal temperature of your cooked, grilled foods to be sure they have been cooked thoroughly to prevent contamination. Bring the thermometer with you!
Store drinks in their own cooler separate from foods because the drink cooler will be opened frequently causing temperature changes which could harm foods.
Put your coolers in a shady spot during the day and not in direct sunlight.
For more food safety tips check out Detective Foodsafe’s adventures.
Making a few healthier choices for your Labor Day cookout or any BBQ throughout the year is easy to do when you renovate your family favorites.
Your body and health goals will thank you!