When working with raw meats, poultry, and seafood, practice good food safety to prevent foodborne illness. Never use the same tray or plate for cooked meats that were used to bring raw foods to the grill. Wash your hands with soap and water after touching raw foods. Disinfect surfaces that have come into contact with raw foods. Stay mindful of the rags you use around the grill. If you’ve used them to wipe dirty hands, get a new one and designate it for clean hands only.
Choose healthy options.
Grilling can be a healthy method for cooking, but you can boost your nutrition by choosing the right foods for your meal. Focus on poultry, fish, and seasonal vegetables. Chicken breasts can be cut and made into kebabs, and delicate fish can be cooked in foil packets. Corn on the cob, zucchini slices, eggplant slices, whole bell peppers, onion slices, and heads of romaine lettuce are all examples of vegetables that are delicious cooked on the grill. Don’t forget dessert. Warm fruit kebabs with berries, melon, and pineapple sprinkled with cinnamon or drizzled with honey make a healthy end to your cookout.
Marinate your meats.
Grilling meats at high heat has been linked to carcinogens in the food. Research shows that marinating meats may reduce these carcinogens. Make marinades with healthy oils, vinegars and juices, and always add fresh herbs. Studies have shown that fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme help reduce the carcinogens.
Pick healthier seasonings.
Rubs and seasoning mixes can be healthier options for flavoring grilled foods when compared to heavy sauces, but not all spice seasonings are created equal. Some have added sugar and high levels of sodium. Choose low-salt, sugar-free spice rubs to make your grilled meal healthier. If you can’t find a healthy rub you like, experiment with making your own. Equal parts of spices like chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder with a little salt and pepper can be made into a paste by stirring in heart-healthy olive oil. Rub down meats and vegetables with the paste before grilling.
Make sure it’s done.
Everyone has preferences for how they like their grilled foods to be cooked, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has set guidelines for grilling temperatures to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, ground beef to 160 degrees, and steaks to 145 degrees. Invest in a meat thermometer for safe and healthy grilling.
Zucchini and other summer squashes are antioxidant-rich and provide copper, manganese, potassium, folate, and fiber. In this recipe, zucchini sticks are coated in bread crumbs and baked until crunchy for a healthy snack or side dish.
Yield: 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
1 lb. small zucchini, ends trimmed
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp fine ground sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 large egg
1 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut each zucchini in half length-wise, and then cut each half again length-wise to make 4 sticks per small zucchini.
In a large shallow baking dish, stir together the bread crumbs, cheese, oregano, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and the water for 15 seconds. Add the zucchini sticks to the bowl and toss to coat each in the egg.
Transfer the zucchini sticks to the dish with the bread crumbs. Working in batches, coat each stick with crumbs. Place the sticks, skin-side down on a baking sheet covered with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the zucchini is tender and the bread crumbs are browned and crunchy. Serve warm.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 44; Total Fat 1.1 g; Saturated Fat 0.6 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 3 mg; Sodium 177 mg; Carbohydrate 5.4 g; Fiber 0.2 g; Sugar 0.3 g; Protein 3.0 g
Your workout is influenced by more than the time you spend at the gym. When you put in the effort to plan and prepare, you will feel more energized and motivated to challenge yourself and improve your fitness.
Make it more convenient.
While you may need to adjust your schedule and make a few sacrifices to fit in exercise, if it feels too inconvenient, your commitment to it won’t last long. If you work out at a gym, make sure it is easy to get to. Driving an hour because you want to try the latest exercise trend may be exciting for a while, but you’ll be more likely to go if you choose the gym that is on your drive home from work. You also don’t have to commute to exercise. There are plenty of effective workouts with and without equipment that you can do at home.
Find a good fit.
Group exercise instructors, personal trainers, and coaches have different training styles and personalities. Even a gym atmosphere can have a certain vibe and energy level. Not every person or place is going to be the perfect fit for you. Do some research and take advantage of trial periods until you find the right fit. Making exercise a habit is hard enough without forcing yourself to do it in a place that doesn’t get you excited for your workouts.
Wear the right gear.
You don’t need to invest in expensive gear to exercise, but a few essentials will make your workouts much more enjoyable and also keep you safe. An athletic shoe will make joints more comfortable. Cross-trainers work for most activities, but if the majority of exercise will be spent doing a specific activity, like running, choose a shoe that is designed for it. Inexpensive shirts and shorts made with moisture-wicking material can make a world of difference in your workout. This clothing is designed to keep you cool and dry, unlike cotton that can get wet and heavy and can cause you to overheat.
You can’t sustain a challenging workout without giving your body the fuel it needs to perform at its best. Eating a balanced diet with carbohydrates for energy and protein for recovery is only part of the equation. The timing of your meals and snacks is equally important. Experimenting with healthy foods at different times before or after your workouts may be necessary to determine a plan that keeps your energy up without upsetting your stomach.
Take a rest day.
Rest days are essential to an exercise program. They help you recover both mentally and physically so that you can safely keep up your exercise routine. Plan to take at least one rest day a week.
Make sleep a priority.
Exercise is the last thing you want to do when you feel sluggish and sleepy. Fatigue can make you decrease your intensity or cause you to skip the gym altogether. Getting the rest you need will ensure that your energy levels are high when you are ready to workout. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to perform their best.
Research shows that the healthy bacteria living in our bodies improves digestion and immunity. We can boost these healthy bacteria by eating foods that contain probiotics like those found in fermented foods.
How are fermented foods made?
When a food is fermented, bacteria feed off of the natural sugars. This produces compounds that help preserve the food, and the food becomes filled with healthy bacteria and enzymes.
How do fermented foods improve health?
The healthy bacteria and enzymes help to break down the food. Simply put, they kickstart digestion before the food is eaten. As a result, the food is easier for the body to digest once it reaches the stomach. Digestive health is linked to inflammation, allergies and autoimmune disorders, which all play a role in illness. Because fermented foods improve gut health, they may also help boost the immune system to protect against illness. They may also help fight cancer. According to Tufts University, fermented cabbage has increased levels of cancer-fighting glucosinolates.
What are some examples of fermented foods?
Fermented foods have gained popularity in recent years and are now readily available. Many of these foods have always been around, but because of a renewed association with health, they get more attention.
Tempeh - made from fermented soybeans
Sauerkraut - made by fermenting cabbage
Kefir - made from fermented milk
Kombucha - a fermented tea drink
Yogurt - made by introducing beneficial bacteria to milk
Kimchi - made with fermented cabbage and Korean spices
Are all fermented foods healthy?
The bacteria and enzymes in fermented foods are healthy, but this can be overshadowed by unhealthy additives and flavorings. For example, some fermented foods can be high in sodium. Others have added sugar and artificial fruit flavors. Additionally, some fermented foods have been pasteurized to make them shelf-stable, which involves high-heat cooking that can kill the good bacteria. Stick with freshly fermented foods with little added sugar and salt, and consider making your own so that you can control additives and reap the full nutritional benefits.
Kale is best known for providing vitamins A, C, K and folate, but this leafy green also contains protein, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and beneficial plant chemicals like lutein that promote healthy vision. While sometimes bitter when eaten alone, you can combine it with other vegetables and a homemade dressing to create a crunchy salad that is balanced in flavors.
Yield: 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
6 cups finely chopped kale
½ cup sliced celery
½ cup shredded carrot
½ cup sliced red onion
¼ cup dry roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp honey
¼ tsp grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp fine ground sea salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
In a large bowl, toss together the kale, celery, carrot, and red onion. Sprinkle in the sunflower seeds and cranberries.
In a half pint jar or small bowl with a lid, add all of the dressing ingredients. Seal with the lid and shake for 15 to 20 seconds until all ingredients are combined.
Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat the salad.
Nutrition information for 1 serving: Calories 273; Total Fat 18.7 g; Saturated Fat 2.5 g; Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 136 mg; Carbohydrate 28.4 g; Fiber 4.4 g; Sugar 13.2 g; Protein 5.2 g