Jena DeMoss: Celebrate summer with good, healthy food

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

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With summer comes lots of celebrations between graduations, The Fourth of July, weddings and plenty of backyard barbecues.  That doesn’t mean you can’t both celebrate and enjoy food while still staying true to eating in a way that nourishes your body. Trust us: You’ll feel your best staying in this sweet spot of eating that considers both enjoyment and wellness. Here are our top three dietitian tips for your summer gatherings! 

 1. Eat for balance even over the holiday by choosing a protein-rich breakfast. 

Eating enough protein at breakfast can help improve your metabolism, mood, cognitive performance, blood sugar control, cravings and food choices for the remainder of the day! One quick on-the-go breakfast idea is Lifeway Kefir. Lifeway Kefir is a cultured dairy drink and probiotic powerhouse filled with essential nutrients important for everyday health. One 8-ounce serving contains 12 live and active cultures and is a good source of protein and vitamin B12, as well as high in vitamin D and calcium.

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 2. Practice food safety for a fun party free from foodborne illness.  

Did you know that you are most likely to get foodborne illness during the summer months? This is due to a few factors. First, harmful microbes multiply more rapidly in warm and humid conditions. Plus, more people are cooking outside at picnics, barbecues and while camping. These environments may not have proper refrigeration or washing capabilities. Here are four steps to ensure safer food this summer: 

Chill promptly: Holding food at an unsafe temperature is another leading cause of foodborne illness. Cold, perishable food should be kept in an insulated cooler bag with several inches of ice or ice packs. Keep the cooler in the coldest part of the car and keep it out of the sun whenever possible. Food kept out of refrigeration for more than two hours may not be safe to eat. When the temperature is above 90 degrees, food should not be left out for more than one hour. 

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate. Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling and serving of food is another leading cause of foodborne illness. When packing a cooler for an outing, wrap raw meat securely to avoid any juices coming into contact with ready-to-eat foods. Wash plates, utensils and cutting boards that held any raw meat before using again. 

Cook to safe temperatures: Take your meat thermometer with you. Meat cooked on a grill may brown very quickly on the outside, but ensure it is cooked to the correct internal temperature before serving by using a meat thermometer. 

3. Eat for balance even over the holiday by choosing low-calorie beverage options. 

Calories from alcoholic or sweetened beverages add up yet typically aren’t as filling or satiating as whole foods. Furthermore, calories from alcohol or from added sugar aren’t providing much in terms of nutrition for the body.  Choose your beverages carefully. Feel free to savor your favorite drink in moderation and then switch to a low-calorie beverage option to balance it out. One flavorful yet low-calorie beverage option is Zevia. Zevia offers a variety of refreshing and delightful zero sugar, naturally sweetened beverages made from real ingredients. Try substituting Zevia into a cocktail or mocktail recipe for a lighter beverage option or give this recipe for Slow Cooker Café Rio Sweet Pork a try for your next summer celebration. 

Slow Cooker Café Rio Sweet Pork

Serves 5

All you need 

• 1½ lbs pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into quarters

• 1 (12-oz) can Zevia Zero Calorie Cola Soda, divided

• ½ cup brown sugar, divided

• 1 tbsp minced garlic

• 1 (4-oz) can green chilies

• 1 (10-oz) can red enchilada sauce

All you do

1. Quarter pork and place in slow cooker with ½ can of Zevia, ¼ cup brown sugar and garlic. Cover and cook on low for about 4-5 hours.

2. Once cooked add remaining ½ can of Zevia, ¼ cup brown sugar, green chilies and enchilada sauce to a blender. Blend until smooth.

3. Discard the liquid from slow cooker, shred the meat and return back to slow cooker.

4. Add sauce to slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for another 2 hours. 

5. Use tongs to serve the pork on top of salads, rice, burritos, tacos, quesadillas etc.

Tip:  A great way to shred meat is using a hand mixer.

It is possible to have freedom and flexibility with your diet along with making food choices that are helpful to your health. Find your own style of eating that still allows you to enjoy the juice of life, like a Fourth of July summertime celebration, while not sacrificing your values for wellness.