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watermelonBy Kirsten Archer

Fourth of July is here!  And so is the season of outdoor eating — barbecues, grilling and picnics. Make the most of your summer celebrations with friends and family by having a safe meal wherever you are, whether in the backyard or at your favorite state park.  Here are a few tips!

  • Propane and charcoal grills should only be used outdoors away from deck railings and out from under overhangs like roofs and tree branches…and away from children and pets!
  • Always wash your hands after using the bathroom and when handling food.
    • Bring a jug of water, soap, and paper towels for washing hands outside away from plumbing.  Or, use hand sanitizers.
  • Thaw frozen meat, poultry and fish in the refrigerator—never on the counter.
  • If you marinate your meats, keep them in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
  • Don’t use the same plates and utensils for cooked meats that you used for raw meats.
  • Cook your food thoroughly. The best way is to use a cooking  thermometer (you can find fairly inexpensive ones at most supermarkets).
    • Hamburgers should be cooked to 155 degrees F. (Brown all the way through, not pink)
    • Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F.
    • Fish and seafood should be cooked to 145 degrees F.
    • To avoid charring foods (which can create carcinogens), use a lower heat setting on your grill and give it a little more time to cook.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold! Don’t let cooked leftovers or ones that need refrigeration stay out all day.  Pack them away in ice chests.

Now that you’ve got safety covered, are you looking for something light to serve at your next barbeque?  Here’s a twist on two of my summertime favorites–cucumber and watermelon.  The cucumber’s cool, crisp flavor never fails to hit the spot on a hot and humid day and watermelon is always refreshingly sweet.  This recipe is sure to please!

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad (Serves 4—serving size, about ¾ cup)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil

Directions

  1. Combine oil, juice, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well.
  2. Add watermelon, cucumber, and onion. Toss well to coat.
  3. Sprinkle salad evenly with basil.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

 

(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)

For more outdoor cooking tips, visit http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm094562.htm

Kirsten Archer is a nutrition policy intern at Tufts University.

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