With the summer season in full swing, Aramark, the largest U.S.-based food services provider, and the American Heart Association (AHA) are working together to improve the health of Americans, and are sharing tips to help everyone have a healthy summer.
As part of their Healthy for Life 20 By 20 initiative, Aramark tapped into its network of more than 750 registered dietitians and 1,600 chefs and the AHA leveraged its national network of experts to compile the following tips and health ideas so you can make the most of the season.
1. Lighten up your summertime lunch
Cool crisp salads, made from fresh in-season ingredients, make for the perfect lunch on a hot summer day. Lighten up by dressing salads with light vinaigrettes or lower calorie dressings, instead of calorie laden creamy options, like Caesar or Ranch, and think outside the salad box, by incorporating fresh summer fruits, or unexpected combinations, like walnuts or raisins.
2. Spice up your barbecue
Spices and summer herbs are a great way to add flavor to grilled meats, fish, vegetables and fruits. Try any of these for tasty options:
- Ginger: Add to iced tea or summer smoothies (but remember, a little goes a long way!).
- Ground cinnamon: Sprinkle on everything from yogurt to cereal to fresh fruit salad.
- Basil: Add unique flavor to fruit salads with basil. It's delicious with sweet ripe peaches, strawberries, watermelon or mango.
- Cilantro: Mince fresh cilantro and add to your favorite salsa for a burst of fresh flavor.
3. Refresh and rejuvenate with fresh summer produce
It's important to stay hydrated when enjoying the outdoors during the summer months. Many summer fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, melons, zucchini and cucumbers, are natural refreshers, since they contain more than 90% water.
- Tomatoes (90% water) are most flavorful and abundant in the summer. Take advantage of this summer staple, by cutting into wedges and marinating with light dressing, or slicing and placing atop a sandwich.
- Watermelons and cantaloupes (90-95% water) are perfect in-season thirst quenchers. Serve chilled watermelon squares or cantaloupe on popsicle sticks. Top with a little yogurt for an added treat.
- Zucchini and squash (95% water) are perfect for grilling. Cut squash into thick slices, brush lightly with olive oil and/or preferred spices and grill for a few minutes.
- Cucumbers (95% water) are a great addition to many summer meals. Try a cool, refreshing cucumber salad. Thinly slice a cucumber and top with rice wine vinegar and sesame seeds. Combine with tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, onions and celery. Marinate in a light vinaigrette, chill and enjoy.
4. A leaner take on barbecue classics
Burgers and hot dogs reign supreme during the summer months. For a healthier alternative and twist on the traditional favorites, swap out beef burgers for turkey or black bean burgers, and traditional hot dogs for a turkey sausage or veggie dogs. Top with diced tomatoes, cucumbers or onion for some added texture and crunch.
5. Chill out with dessert
Sweet frozen treats offer great escape from the summer heat. Keep a healthy balance by choosing options like sugar-free water ice or popsicles, or stay cool with frozen yogurt or a fruit parfait topped with fruit and granola. Fresh fruit smoothies are full of flavor and can also satisfy hunger, quench thirst and cool you down. If indulging in ice-cream, choose a reasonable portion and top with fresh berries.
Food safety tips for outdoor eating
Warm weather occasions with friends and family present opportunities for food-borne bacteria to thrive. The following tips can help protect you and your guests from food-borne illness during the warm-weather months:
- Transporting the food: Pack cold food in ice (or frozen packs) in a closed cooler when traveling. Cold food should be stored at 41°F (5°C) or below. Protect food from cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry and seafood securely wrapped.
- Preparing the food: Cook food thoroughly. A food thermometer is essential to make sure food is cooked safely. When grilling, keep grilled foods hot by moving to the side of the grill rack until it is ready to be served. Never use the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood, and always have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.
- Serving the food: Cold perishable food should be kept in the cooler at 41°F (5°C) or below until serving time. Cold food should not sit out for longer than two hours (or only one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F (32°C)). Make sure to wrap hot foods well in an insulated container until serving. Hot food should be kept hot at 140°F (60°C) or above. Hot foods should not sit out for more than two hours.