The Old Diet Issue is STILL the New Issue: Easy Steps to Up Your Intake of Fruits & Veggies

I’ve had my nutrition practice for 29 years this month! Despite all the new ideas revolving around the best way to eat a healthy diet, some American food patterns haven’t changed in nearly 30 years-namely not eating enough fruits and vegetables. I often ask myself what is going on, because so many clients are adamant that they love fruits and vegetables. Reviewing their food records, however, tells another story. While they may indeed “love” fruits and vegetables, they are not eating enough of them. So, here are some very easy ways to continue tackling this very-longstanding dietary problem sans becoming a vegan:

Apples. Prepare another way! Fall is the time many families pick apples. All those apples do not need to be eaten raw, turned into calorie laden pie, or smeared with peanut butter. Instead, cut up an apple, zap it in the microwave for about 1.5 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and garnish with dab of whipped cream or ice cream (dab is the operative word here). Now you have a tasty apple disguised as dessert. This is a great way to get a toddler interested in and able to start eating apples even before all the teeth are in. And, for the older crowd, the calories are a lot less than apple pie.

Pumpkin. Eat crust-less pumpkin pie for breakfast!  My three kids loved this breakfast food when growing up. And, I still enjoy it myself.

15 oz. Can pumpkin pie
 1 can evaporated skim milk
 2 large eggs
 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
 ½ tsp. ground ginger
 ½ tsp. ground cloves
 ½ tsp. salt
 1/2 cup sugar
 1/2 cup Bisquick mix

Directions~
Spray Pam or vegetable spray on a glass pie plate. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into pie pan and bake in a pre-heated oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Note: the texture of the crust-free pie is souffle like. The Bisquick mix adds enough texture to the pie to allow it to be cut into pie shaped wedges. Serve plain or top with dab of whipped cream or ice cream.

Berries.  While lots of people think of smoothies as a way to boost your fruit and vegetable intake, most people make it too complicated. I like to include one banana to thicken the smoothie, add a cup of berries, and 3/4 cup skim milk, soy milk, or orange juice. If you want to make it taste like cheesecake, add a small amount of cottage cheese. Straws are necessary. This is great for kids and adults on the run.

Spinach. Add it to lasagna, soups, omelets, or one skillet meals. This evening, my husband made an impressive vegan pasta dish with lots of tomatoes and spinach. It was a “keeper recipe” and used a lot of spinach. One-Pot Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes.

Getting 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet has a huge impact on the overall nutritional quality of your diet.

What tips do you have for this age old eating problem?

Diet Savvy Strategies

 Between “Dr. Google” and all the nutrition books available, it’s no wonder people are confused on how to get on track with healthier eating. Many clients tell me it seems the recommendations are always changing, and it makes for a lot of confusion on how to actually eat well. In reality, eating well is not difficult if you can remember some simple steps and strategies to get started. By following these eating strategies, it’s almost a guarantee that your diet will improve.

  • Add plenty of brightly colored fruits and vegetables to your diet all day and each day. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds that can lessen your risk for diseases such as cancer and heart disease. The more colorful your diet, the richer your diet is in anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Decrease your animal protein intake. Most people eat way too much animal protein. By decreasing your animal protein, you are decreasing your fat consumption which can be a good thing if you are trying to manage your weight.  Even if you are not trying to manage your weight, cutting down on animal protein will decrease saturated fat which can lessen inflammation. And your kidneys, they can benefit from a lower protein intake as well because they do not need to work so hard!
  • Limit your restaurant and carry out food.  I have never met a client that was able to lose weight and eat restaurant/carry out food on a daily basis. Consumer beware: most restaurant/carryout food is higher in sodium, calories, and fat than the counterpart item prepared at home. Check menus and nutrition information in advance of dining out. I had a client recently that ordered a so-called healthy salad at a chain restaurant thinking it was a good choice; unfortunately, the calories clocked in at 1400. It’s a good thing she expended a lot of calories that day!
  • Take advantage of convenience foods at the grocery store. I guarantee a Healthy Choice, Kashi, or even Lean Cuisine frozen dinner is going to stack up with less calories, sodium, and fat that your average carry out meal. Plus, it’s all portion controlled so if you are tired, you don’t need to think too much. Add a healthy beverage and a fruit/vegetable and your meal will be pretty nutritionally rounded.
  • Meals can be large snacks and you don’t NEED to cook.  Is it a problem to eat cereal for dinner? I don’t think so!  Have that cereal with milk or a milk alternative, some fresh fruit, an it’s a rather nutritionally adequate and satisfying easy meal. By choosing a higher fiber unsweetened cereal you have improved the quality of your meal dramatically. Not into cereal for dinner, then try a simple fruit smoothie made with some milk for another nutrient dense snack. Ever think of adding cottage cheese to the smoothie? It makes the smoothie taste like cheesecake!

Once you get used to these simple strategies, you will see how easy healthy eating can be!

What are your healthy eating strategies?

Turkey Scraps: Try This New Comfort Food Recipe

Those turkey scraps that don’t fit nicely on a serving platter for Thanksgiving lend themselves very well to a favorite family recipe of mine. I would put these croquettes in the “comfort food” category. They are easy to make, use up all your leftover meat scraps, and are a healthy meat entrée. Enjoy the whole traditional bird on Thanksgiving, then enjoy this great leftover dish later in the week.Turkey Dinner

Take all those scraps of turkey and place into a food processor or a blender.  This recipe calls for about 2 cups of shredded meat.  The meat mixture will be mixed with a light roux sauce to bind it and then baked in the oven for a healthier alternative to a traditional fried croquette recipe.

 

For the croquette meat mixture you will need:

2 cups of chopped or shredded leftover turkey

dash of salt and pepper

1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)

1 tsp. chopped parsley (optional)

Combine these ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Next, make the light roux sauce.  You will need:

4 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1 cup milk

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the flour and seasonings and blend.  Slowly add the one cup of milk, stirring continually with a wire whisk until the mixture thickens.  After the mixture thickens, add into the chopped meat mixture. You want the mixture to be firm enough to shape, so use only part of the sauce mixture initially, and then added the rest as needed.  It is helpful to chill the mixture for awhile in order to allow for shaping the mixture into firmer patties.

After the roux sauce and chopped meat are mixed together, shape your croquettes into eight hamburger like patty shapes.

The next step is to coat the croquette patties with the bread crumbs.  You will need:

1 cup fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter
one egg with 1 tbsp. water or alternatively you may use eggbeaters

Place the butter in a shallow baking dish and melt.  Dip the croquettes into the bread crumbs, egg, and then back into the bread crumbs.  Next place the breaded croquettes into the melted warm butter and coat all sides. Preheat the oven to 350 ° and bake for about 30 minutes until crisp.  This can be served with a dollop of any leftover roux sauce if not needed for the croquette mixture.  Garnish with a sprig of parsley and enjoy that turkey again.

Nutrition information per croquette:

200 calories

9 grams of fat

15 grams of protein

15 grams of carbohydrate

360 mg sodium

 

Tip:  If you would like to decrease the fat and calorie content further, skip rolling the bread coating mixture in the melted butter.  Turkey scraps can also be frozen to make this recipe at a later time. And, no turkey?  This recipe also works very well with leftover chicken.  Bon appetit!Those turkey scraps that don’t fit nicely on a serving platter for Thanksgiving lend themselves very well to a favorite family recipe of mine.  Take all those pieces of turkey and place into a food processor or a blender.  This recipe calls for about 2 cups of shredded meat.  The meat mixture will be mixed with a light roux sauce to bind it and then baked in the oven for a healthier alternative to a traditional fried croquette recipe.

 

 

 

How Does Your Favorite Cereal Stack Up?

 

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Did you know cereal is a healthy nutrient dense carbohydrate? Selecting a good breakfast cereal means you will be providing complex carbohydrates to efficiently fuel your brain and body.  A good quality breakfast cereal should have fiber and not much sugar.  I like to see a breakfast cereal with at least 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving.  Speaking of “serving”, how big is your portion? Most people actually do not mentally note the serving size on the Nutrition Facts Label and are rather shocked to find out, for instance, that a serving of Frosted Mini Wheats is just 21 pieces!   It’s ok to double your serving size, but this will be an issue if you are trying to control your calories along with other nutrients.

Thumbs Up to FiberFiber aids digestion, stabilizes blood glucose levels, aids in blood cholesterol reduction, and can offer a feeling of satiety to actually aid in weight reduction! That’s a lot of benefits from a bowlful of fiber rich cereal.

Thumbs Down to Sugar. Did you know that every 5 grams of sugar yields one teaspoon of sugar?  So, that fruity loop cereal your kids love which contains 15 grams of sugar contains 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving.  That assumes your serving size is what is noted on the box.  Pour a second bowl and you double your sugar consumption along with the calories.

Thumbs Down to Fat. A cereal is mostly complex carbohydrate and should not have much fat in it.  Some whole grain cereals will have a natural small amount of fat, but if the fat content per serving of the cereals gets too high (over 3 grams), then the assumption is fat has been added in production.  A classic example of a cereal with excessive fat per serving is Kellogg’s Crackling Oat Bran which contains 7 grams of fat per 3/4 cup serving.

Thumbs Up OR Down to Iron.  If you are a female of child bearing age, or a growing child, then enriched breakfast cereal is an excellent source of dietary iron. For everyone else, beware!  Males and older women do not need the large amount of iron in cereal.  Too much iron is constipating and also an issue if you have a common genetic condition called hereditary iron overload.  If you have been paying attention to the iron content of cereal, you know it is very difficult to find a cereal without iron.  In fact, many popular lower sugar and high fiber cereals are also loaded with iron. For instance Wheat Chex (6 grams fiber) contains over 14 grams of iron.  Cheerios contains 8 grams of iron. This is too much iron for men and older women who only need 8 mgs. per day and will be getting additional iron in the diet through other foods.

Cereals with less iron include:

  • Kashi cereals range from virtually no iron up to 2 mg depending on the variety selected
  • Puffins have less than 1 mg
  • Cooked oatmeal has less than 2 mg
  • Fiber One has 4.5 mg
  • Frosted Cheerios have 4.5 mg
  • Basic 4 has 4.5 mg
  • Flax Plus Multibran Flakes has less than 2 mg
  • All Cascadian Farm Organic cereals (my new “find”), have less than 2 mg iron

Enjoy your cereal for breakfast, snacks, and maybe even dinner, but make sure you choose one that is right for your health.

The Potential Hidden Danger in Your Cereal: Iron

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We all know iron is something we need to stay healthy and prevent anemia.  But did you know that too much dietary iron can hurt your health? When choosing a cereal, most people grab what tastes good.  If they are health conscious,  cereals low in calories and sugar and high in fiber might be selected.

One of the main problems with iron fortification in cereal is that the cereal is fortified for the part of the population that needs the most iron-namely women of childbearing age.  So, listen up adult males and older women: you, in particular, need to be mindful of the iron content of your favorite breakfast cereal.  When looking at a Nutrition Fact Label, note the percentage of DV iron. Looking at the above label, if a young female of child-bearing age has a 3/4 cup serving of Wheat Chex, she will be consuming 80% of her iron requirements (or about 14 grams of iron).  However, if an adult male or older woman eats 3/4 cup of the above cereal, he/she will be consuming almost double the iron recommendation of 8 grams of iron.  The fact that so much of our food supply is fortified with iron increases the risk that this hefty load of iron in a single serving of breakfast cereal could be problematic.

What exactly is the problem with eating too much iron?  Research has suggested the following:

Accelerated aging process?  Researchers recently pointed this out in worms, and will likely try to evaluate if this applies to humans;  in the interim, we already know that iron causes oxidative stress, which as far as the human body is concerned, is a negative event!  Oxidative stress in humans is thought to be involved in the development of many diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

Constipation.  Aside from being unpleasant, this is not healthy for your body.   Any toxins or food pathogens present in your food will linger in your gastrointestinal tract, and potentially threaten your overall health. There is also scientific evidence that constipation can be a risk factor for colorectal cancer.

Healthy people make a hormone, hepcidin, which swings into action to prevent too much iron from being absorbed. However, in a now common genetic condition called iron overload (or technically Hemochromatosis), the body is unable to put the brakes on iron absorption and iron begins to build up in the tissues. Early symptoms are varied and include fatigue, abdominal pain, and increased infections.  Later symptoms include liver failure and heart failure, and bone damage, and diabetes.

For those as yet undiagnosed people who are at particular risk from too much dietary iron, the iron content of generous servings of cereal are particularly troublesome.  For the rest of the males and older women, reading the nutrition fact label can help you keep your iron intake where it belongs-which is significantly less than noted on the label of most cereals on today’s supermarket shelves.

Have a favorite breakfast cereal which is low in iron? Please share for the next updated blog on which are the best low iron cereal options on the market.

 

 

Homemade Chicken Soup: Oh So Good and Good For You!

chicken soup

Homemade chicken soup made in my favorite Cuisinart electric pressure cooker

It seems as though sinus infections, the stomach flu, bronchitis, and muscle aches are making the rounds in my large family and we don’t even live in the same house! I finally found both the energy and time to take out my favorite cooking equipment, my pressure cooker, to make some virus fighting fuel.  We have all heard that even canned chicken noodle soup can help fight a cold, but I was eager and ready to taste the rich flavorful type of chicken noodle soup I could make with my electric pressure cooker. At this point, I decided I would enhance the rich flavor by making the chicken stock base in my pressure cooker rather than using low sodium chicken broth.

Pressure Cooker Homemade Chicken Stock Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of chicken wings
  • small onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 parsley sprigs
  • 2 quarts water

Cook all ingredients on high pressure for 40 minutes. Use a natural release to continue extracting the flavors.  Strain the stock. Cool the stock in order to skim the fat off.  If time is short and you need to use the chicken stock before it is completely cool, use a chilled lettuce leaf to help skim the fat off the stock.  The chilled leaf will actually attract the fat in the broth to allow for removal.

On to the Chicken Soup….

  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound of skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper, to taste
  • 6 cups of your homemade chicken stock recipe or 6 cups low sodium packaged chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 cup egg noodles (may substitute rice or orzo)

Saute the celery, onion, and carrots in the tablespoon of oil for a few minutes.   Add the chicken breasts, thyme, salt, pepper, and stock or broth.  Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes; when done release the pressure quickly.  Add in the chopped parsley and then cook the egg noodles or other pasta or rice in the hot soup.

In addition to being a “comfort” food, chicken soup will fight inflammation, thin your mucous, and hydrate you which will all hopefully fight whatever ails you!

Do you have a favorite chicken soup recipe?  Interested in more soup recipes?

 

 

 

“Turkey Day” Food: Slimming Strategies for Favorite Foods!

Turkey DinnerThe big turkey day is upon us in a few weeks, so many cooks are already planning their menus for Thanksgiving.  Across the country, people will eat dinner with family and friends in homes and restaurants.  Many of my clients feel it is difficult to focus on health and wellness at this time of the year.  For Thanksgiving gatherings, I tell my clients it is “just one day” of dining.  If you exercise control over the aftermath of the meal, then it should be viewed as a meal enjoyed with those that matter in your life, a time to be thankful, and a time to reflect.  Controlling the “aftermath” means that you get rid of the leftovers that may sabotage your healthy eating plans or plan appropriately to avoid having leftovers in the first place!  With that stated, I think we can also think about the traditional Thanksgiving meal as having the potential to be a meal that can even offer health benefits to your diet.  Here is a sampling of traditional Thanksgiving foods and the potential impact on your health:

Pumpkin.  Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene which is the plant derived form of vitamin A.  Consider offering your guests a slimmed down crustless pumpkin pie option in addition to traditional desserts.

Sweet potatoes.  This is another beta-carotene superstar.  Keep the calories in tow by limiting the brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows used in traditional recipes.

Mashed potatoes. Potatoes are loaded with potassium!  Slim down your recipe by limiting the butter used in your recipe.  Consider using skim milk, low sodium chicken broth, or fat-free sour cream in your recipe to slash the fat and calories.

Cranberries.  This traditional side dish is loaded with cancer fighting plant chemicals, vitamin C, and fiber.  No need to limit its use to cranberry bread and sauce-consider using it in a fruit compote instead.

Turkey.  Turkey is full of lean protein.  Watch your serving sizes and the gravy added to your plate, and consider this a healthy meat option for your Thanksgiving gathering.  Roast your turkey without the stuffing inside, baking it in a separate casserole dish.  This keeps your stuffing lower in calories as well.

Watch your servings sizes for all your foods and leftovers, and enjoy the day and the health benefits of traditional Turkey day fare.  Top your meal with a nice family walk, and you will be slim and ready for the next round of holidays in December!

 Do you have any healthy Thanksgiving recipes to share?

To Supplement or Not: 5 Facts To Factor

supplements from a bottleNews coverage over the last few days seems to be revolving around the weather, the holidays, Obamacare, and of all things nutritional supplements!  While I can’t comment about most of this current list of media topics, I do have a few words to say on the topic of supplements!  If you listen to the media hype over the last few days, there are some recurring  statements from the so-called experts being interviewed.  Some “experts” note most of our nutrients should come from food, come from “natural” whole foods put into pill form, or just be avoided altogether.  The truth and correct answers are most likely somewhere in between the primarily black and white general statements made by these so-called experts. Sadly, despite this topic of supplements airing over many news stations for the last few days, not one “expert” ever suggested that each person should be evaluated on a case by case basis in order to really assess the need and benefits from supplements. To determine if supplements are right for you, consider these tips:

  • Supplements are meant to fill in for dietary shortfallsIf you eat a healthy diet (include dairy or source of calcium, fish, plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains), there is a fairly good chance you can skip taking pills!  If you are lactose intolerant, hate dairy products, don’t eat any foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, or you are vegan, then you may benefit from a supplement.  Consulting a licensed/registered dietitian can help you sort out what you may or may not need to be doing regarding supplements.
  • Supplements are of benefit to your health if you have a documented deficiency of a nutrient!  Wondering if you should really be taking vitamin D supplements?  You should have a blood test to determine if you need to be taking a supplement.  Once blood work is done on my clients, most have turned out to be deficient.  Once a deficiency of any nutrient is determined, it is easy enough to replete the diet through both food and supplements (or sunshine in the case of vitamin D).
  • Be aware of upper limits of safety!  More is definitely not better for you in most cases.  In fact, many people who take multiple supplements forget that they may be doubling or tripling their intake of a given nutrient because it is in several of their supplement formulas.  Beyond a certain limit, it can be dangerous to take the nutrient. Some nutrients can even be toxic if taken in excess.  Your favorite dietitian can be your best resource for this information!
  • Food is your best source of nutrients.  Nature has an uncanny way of packaging foods and one food is loaded with many nutrients that actually work together to maximize your nutritional status.  With that stated, those people who eat a lot of processed foods and a limited diet may indeed benefit from specific supplements.  An evaluation of your diet and eating habits is the best way to move forward with accurate supplement recommendations.
  • Did you know there is no regulation of supplements?  If a supplement has been implicated in causing harm, it will be pulled from the shelves, but until then it is buyer beware!  With that stated, the savvy consumer choosing to take supplements should consider well-know brands that have a reputation to protect.  Using lesser known brands may result in less quality control.  Over the decades, some supplements have been known to be tainted with arsenic and lead.  Choosing a name brand product can potentially protect you!

Not all supplements are good or bad for that matter.  Not all people need supplements, and many people do!  Consulting with a professional who is educated on this topic and takes the time to evaluate your diet prior to making recommendations will be time well spent in improving both your health and nutritional status!

7 Tips to Tackle Healthier Eating by TONIGHT!

We are all busy!  My new clients all seem to feel like there is no time to “cook”, they eat on theMan Eating Pizza run, and the end result is a poor diet that will eventually impact health and weight. Through my three decades of counseling clients, I have seen the American diet deteriorate to new lows.  If you would like to improve your diet by this evening and your health down the road, try these seven easy tactics to shape up your diet by TONIGHT!

  • Eat breakfast.  By starting the day with healthy fuel, you are more likely to get all your required nutrients for the day.  If trying to lose weight, you will use these calories efficiently, and not store as fat.  You can keep it super simple-a serving of fruit, slice of toast, along with juice or milk. 
  • Add fruits and vegetables to your day every day and ALL day.  Most Americans eat far less than the recommended 5 servings a day.  By adding fruits and veggies to your diet, you are adding compounds to your diet that decrease inflammation.  Decreasing inflammation can decrease your risk of disease. Start to tackle this by making sure you eat a serving of fruit and vegetables with every meal and snack and voila, mission accomplished!
  • Drastically decrease animal protein consumption.  Why? Animal protein is not just protein; it is also a significant amount of saturated fat.  By eating less animal protein, you will decrease your intake of fat, particularly saturated fat which is artery clogging and increases inflammation.
  • Avoid the fast food-restaurant trap.Dining out constantly is a sure-fire way to ruin your diet unless you constantly order salads with low fat dressing and fruit platters.  Most restaurant food is much higher in sodium, calories, and fat than the counterpart made or assembled at home.
  • Don’t be afraid of some convenience foods in the grocery store. I can almost guarantee that if you eat some brands of frozen dinner such as Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine, you will for the most part be better off than going to the local fast food chain or diner.  Why?  The meals are portion controlled; you know what you are eating because you can see a Nutrition Fact Label.  We have been brainwashed to think that these meals have too many chemicals, etc.  There are many nutritional advantages to these items as a back up to a chaotic schedule that necessitates relying on dining out to get your meals consumed.  And, it is cheaper.
  • Meals can be large snacks that do not require cooking!  Throughout the years, clients have hesitantly told me that they would eat cereal for dinner because they are too tired to cook.  I think those same clients expect me to say “how awful”, when I actually tell them this is not a problem.  A bowl of cereal along with skim milk or milk alternative and a nice serving of fruit is actually a nice low-calorie and low-fat meal providing protein and carbohydrates in reasonable quantities.  You can also just serve yourself a smoothie made with frozen fruit and throw in some yogurt or cottage cheese to bump up the protein content.
  • Track your food.  Better yet, track your diet with a good app like MyFitnessPal.  It will allow you instant analysis of what you are eating, and more importantly, makes you face the music.  ALL my clients that have been tracking their food with this app are eating better and losing weight if that was the objective.  This app is free.

Do you have other easy and practical tips to keep your diet healthy?

Keep Your Grilled Food Safe at the Plate

With Memorial Day around the corner, grills will be fired up.  Grilled foods are usually considered healthy because they are cooked without fat. For instance, a typical 4-ounce chicken breast cooked on the grill contains about 7 grams of fat, while a 4-ounce serving of fast-food fried chicken contains about 17 grams of fat.Corncobs and meat on grill

Although your waistline is better off with grilled cuisine, the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) points out that grilling might increase the risk of cancer. Cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are produced when meat (eg, fish, beef, and chicken) is cooked at the high temperatures used in grilling and broiling. Other cancer-causing compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are formed when meat fat drips onto hot coals. As food cooks on the grill, flames and smoke help deposit the PAHs onto the food.

What You Can Do to Be Safe

There are steps that you can take to lower your risk of these potentially cancer-causing chemicals:

  •  Trim the fat. To minimize the PAHs from forming, trim as much fat as you can from the meat.
  •  Marinate. Some studies suggest that marinating meat before grilling may reduce the formation of HCAs.
  •  Precook. Pop the meat in the microwave to partially cook it before grilling.
  •  Use smaller cuts of meat. Smaller cuts take less time to grill. You can also flip your food often, which can further shorten grilling time.
  •  Remove charred parts. After grilling, cut off any charred parts from the meat.
  •  Eat your fruits and veggies. Add variety to your meals by grilling fruits and veggies instead of meat. Vegetables do not produce HCAs.

Other Ways to Be a Safe Grillmaster

  •  Frequently wash your hands and surfaces. This can prevent cross-contamination of bacteria, like E. coli.
  • Use separate plates. Use one cutting board for raw meats and a clean one for other foods in order to reduce bacteria crossover. Be sure to use separate plates, utensils, and platters for raw and cooked foods. For instance, if the raw  steaks are carried out on a platter and tongs are used for placing them on the grill, you must use a new clean platter and tongs for taking the cooked steaks off the grill when they are done.
  •  Keep the temperatures appropriate. Meats should be refrigerated while marinating and up to the point of being cooked. When the grilling starts, be sure the internal temperature of meats is appropriate to kill bacteria . Use a meat thermometer to check proper internal temperatures. Leftovers should be refrigerated immediately and tossed if left out more than one hour in hot temperatures and 2 hours in cooler temperatures.

A little precaution goes a long way in keeping your grilled food safe at the plate, both on this holiday weekend and all grilling season.  Happy Memorial Day!