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Cooking around the fire the MyPlate way

Published 4:45pm Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of one of my favorite seasons — camping season.

Camping means sunshine, relaxation and eating over the campfire. It also means planning a weekend full of meals that will keep everyone full and satisfied without bringing the entire grocery store with you.

How do you plan fun meals for camping that are also balanced?  MyPlate foil packets.

Using foil packets to grill or heat on a campfire is an easy way to ensure you and your family are eating a balanced meal, and the clean-up is a snap.  There is no need for plates; all you need is foil and a fork.

Maximize your foil packs with nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fresh vegetables and lean protein.  Dairy provides nine essential nutrients and is an essential part as well, whether it’s inside the foil pack or served with a glass of ice-cold milk.

Foil packets are fun because you can personalize them to individual tastes. Combine ground beef, rice, beans, peppers and cheese for a Southwestern meal, or tilapia and summertime vegetables for a fresh and light meal.

Combine potatoes, vegetables and seasonings. There is even room for dessert: grilled apple crisp, anyone? Make your foil packs ahead of time, throw them in the cooler, and they will be ready to cook when you reach your destination.

Here are some important foil pack cooking tips:

•Use heavy-duty foil and use two sheets per foil pack.

•Spray the inside of the foil packet with non-stick cooking spray.

•Always put the meat on the bottom of the foil packet as it takes the longest to cook.

•Hard, raw vegetables like carrots and potatoes take a long time to cook. If you don’t want to wait, use the canned variety.

•When cooking meat, throw in some high-moisture veggies like tomatoes and onions. This will keep the meat from drying out.

•Cooking times will depend on how hot the fire is and the kind of food in the packet. Flip the packets over a few times during cooking, and open and check on how the food is progressing from time to time.

•When it’s finished cooking, open your foil packet carefully, as it’s full of hot steam.

BBQ Chicken and cheddar  foil packet dinner. Photo provided
BBQ Chicken and cheddar
foil packet dinner. Photo provided

BBQ Chicken and cheddar foil packet dinner

Serves 4/Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 37 minutes

All You Need

•4 tablespoons barbeque sauce, divided

•4 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 pound)

•2 small unpeeled red potatoes, thinly sliced, divided

•1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and sliced, divided

•1 green onion, finely chopped, divided

•Salt and black pepper, to taste

•1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided

All You Do

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place a foil sheet, approximately 12-by-12-inches, on a work surface. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

3. Spoon about 1-½ tbsp. barbecue sauce in the center of the foil sheet. Place one chicken breast half over barbecue sauce, and spread another 1-½ tbsp. of sauce over chicken. Top with a quarter of the potato, bell pepper and onion. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Fold foil in half to cover contents; make narrow folds along edges to seal. Repeat with remaining ingredients to assemble 3 more packets. Place packets on grill or over campfire for 30-35 minutes.

5. Open foil packets with scissors and carefully pull back edges (contents may be very hot). Sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the top of each chicken breast half and return to grill or campfire, unsealed, for 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Recipe created by 3-Every-Day of Dairy.

Nutritional Facts

Calories: 290; Total Fat: 4.5 g; Saturated Fat: 2.5 g; Cholesterol: 75 mg; Sodium: 630 mg; Calcium: 20% Daily Value; Protein: 38 g (10 grams from dairy); Carbohydrates: 21 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g

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