These tips can help prevent food poisoning and lighten up your next picnic.
Before firing up the grill, review this safety checklist:
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap before handling any food.
- Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter.
- Take meat and poultry out of the freezer the day before you’ll be grilling and allow them to thaw completely in the fridge. Never defrost meat on the counter.
- Keep food in the fridge until you’re ready to grill. If you use a cooler to store the food, stow it in the shade.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure food is cooked through. Cook hamburgers to 160 degrees, and hot dogs to 165 degrees. Chicken breasts should reach 165 degrees. Cook steaks, lamb chops, and pork chops to 145 degrees, and allow them to sit for three minutes before serving. This three-minute rest time kills any remaining bacteria.
- Wash all cutting boards, utensils, and dishes with hot water and soap after you prepare each item. When you’re serving the finished food, don’t use trays or utensils that have touched raw meat or poultry. This avoids contaminating the food you’re about to serve.
If you’re heading out for a picnic, be careful to keep your perishable foods cold, at 40 degrees or below. To make your outdoor meal healthy as well as safe, try these tips:
- Reinvent favorites. Instead of using white bread, try whole-grain bread, English muffins, tortillas, or bagels as the base of sandwiches. Get creative with the fillings, too. Replace the sugary jelly in peanut butter sandwiches with apple slices, banana slices, or raisins.
- Swap out salty sides. Handfuls of trail mix are a great substitute for potato chips, pretzels, and other salty snacks. Bring along plenty of crunchy, convenient produce, too, such as carrot and celery sticks, and stack cubed fruit on skewers for a sweeter finger food.
- Consider new condiments. Instead of sodium-heavy salad dressings and ketchup, spice up picnic foods with salsa or spread them with hummus.
Copyright © 2012 Krames StayWell except where otherwise noted.