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Summer Food Tips

20150704_165831852_iOSHappy 4th of July!  I hope everyone out there is enjoying the day off with family.  I love the 4th of July and the patriotism that accompanies it; remembering the founders of our great country and those who have fought to protect it.  BUT, (confession time) summer is probably not my favorite season.  Actually, it’s probably my 4th favorite season.  Maybe I’m crazy, but man alive, I do not like being hot – like sweaty, sticky, hot. I lived in Arizona for 3 years and that may have just solidified my distaste for summer.  If you’ve never felt what 120 F feels like, go turn your oven on and stick your head in.  Well… maybe don’t actually do that.  But believe me, it’s HOT! Any AZ readers out there who can relate?!

I may not love the heat that comes with summer, but I definitely LOVE the food.  To take a break from my thoughts on feeding newborns (I’ll get back to it next week), I thought I’d share a few summer food tips for you and your sprouts!

Grilling:  Summer is the perfect time to fire up the grill. Not only does it keep your house from heating up (am I the only one who doesn’t want to turn on my oven?), but it is a lean, healthy way to prepare a variety of foods (we’re talking meat, vegetables, fruits, breads… the sky’s the limit).  Concerned about carcinogens (cancer causing molecules on charred meat)? Never fear.  Studies have shown that marinating meat before you grill significantly reduces carcinogens.  So, add some flavor, marinate your meat, and grill worry free this summer!

Hydration: Having fun in the sun is definitely a summer priority, but keeping your little ones hydrated is just as important!  When their outside playing or splashing in the pool, it’s easy to forget that water is for drinking and not just playing.  Be sure to check on your little ones frequently to make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids.  If you’re planning a hike or beach day, be sure everyone has their own water bottles, or bring a cooler with plenty to go around.  Try to keep the juice drinks and sodas to a minimum.  If you’re littles want a little more zip to their water, adding cut up fruit gives extra flavor and color.  Go for the red and blue fruits today (strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, blueberries, blackberries) to make a festive 4th of July beverage!

Snacks: Whether you’re at the beach or in the mountains, snacks are a must to keep your sprouts energized.  When possible, stick with fruits (another great way to stay hydrated) and vegetables.   If you need something non-perishable look into nuts, whole grain crackers, dried fruit, popcorn or granola bars (check the sugar **link** content).  Just be sure they aren’t snacking constantly throughout the day or dinnertime might be a battle.  

Food Safety: Summer is the season for barbecues, cookouts, and food left for hours in the hot sun.  Prevent food poisoning by making sure your meat is thoroughly cooked, perishables are kept cold/hot and don’t let the food sit for more than 1 hour in the sun (you can stretch it to 2 if the temp is below 90F).   Make sure to keep your cooler or picnic basket clean, as well as your hands. Hand sanitizer or wipes are great for cleaning those sticky summer fingers, as well as preventing the spread of germs.

Kid Involvement: Having the kids home all day may be a little overwhelming at times, but it can be great for fostering healthy appetites.  Since they aren’t bogged down with assignments and projects, summer is the perfect time to educate them about healthy eating and encouraging picky eaters to try new things.  Get your sprouts involved in their food this summer.  Try planting a garden, heading to your local farmer’s market, letting them pick out fruits and vegetables they want to try, perusing cookbooks with them for new recipe ideas, or actually letting them help with the food prep.  This gives you a chance to educate your kiddos a little more about what goes in their tummies, as well as encourage them to branch out a little and try new things.  All good things really!

Cooling Down: What tastes better after a hot afternoon outside than an ice cold popsicle?  Popsicles can be really high in sugar and artificial dyes so try making your own cold treats this summer.  I like to make green smoothies and freeze them in popsicle molds.  Don’t want to make your own popsicles? Try freezing fruit and eating it plain or whip it up in your blender/food processor for a fun, healthy ice cream (minus the cream).  Sliced bananas, grapes, and even watermelon are all great options for freezing and snacking.

I hope some of these tips will come in handy and that we can all embrace the great food (and heat) that summer brings! What are your favorite summer food tips??

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