Tips on Keeping Your Block Party Bites Safe and Healthy

Photo by: Graham Oliver ©Graham Oliver

Graham Oliver, Graham Oliver

Many neighborhoods celebrate the warm weather by throwing block parties. Filled with tons of food, including burgers, hot dogs, steak, side salads, beverages and desserts, block parties make it tough to stick to a healthy eating plan. And with all that food and all those hungry hands, there’s also a chance of a food safety snafu. Before heading out to your local block party, keep these tips in mind — and share them with the neighborhood!

Healthy Options

You can usually find some healthy bites at a block party if you go simple. Grilled corn on the cob (without gobs of butter), grilled chicken and watermelon can make a healthful, well-balanced meal. Oftentimes, however, you can’t help but take multiple servings of the broccoli salad laden with mayo — or try one of every protein cooked on the grill. Let’s also not forget about tossing back a few (or more!) beers, plus dessert. Don’t worry. You can tote along some of these healthy bites to your next block party to make things a little bit healthier:

Whole-wheat buns or large lettuce leaves for burgers and hot dogs

Grilled vegetables and fruit

Light beer and water bottles

Smaller plates, instead of the large dinner-sized ones

Recipes to Try

Here are a few spins on traditional dishes that are just as tasty, but lighter on the calories.

Grilled Polenta Crackers with Roasted Pepper Salsa; Rachael Ray

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Grilled Polenta Crackers with Roasted Pepper Salsa; Rachael Ray

FNK_ASIAN_RED_CABBAGE_SLAW_WITH_PEANUTS_H_.jpg

FNK_ASIAN_RED_CABBAGE_SLAW_WITH_PEANUTS_H_.jpg

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo by: Nicole Mlakar / NicoleMlakar.com ©Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Nicole Mlakar / NicoleMlakar.com, Nicole Mlakar / nicolemlakar.com

Blueberry Lemonade

Keeping Food Safe

There are several concerns when you have tons of food and people gathering on a hot day. Here are six things to keep in mind:

Raw Ground beef meat Burger steak cutlets on dark marble background

Raw Ground beef meat Burger steak cutlets on dark marble background

Raw Ground beef meat Burger steak cutlets on dark marble background

Photo by: Lisovskaya Natalia ©(c) Lisovskaya Natalia

Lisovskaya Natalia, (c) Lisovskaya Natalia

Raw Ground beef meat Burger steak cutlets on dark marble background

Keep meat and poultry refrigerated. If a home refrigerator isn’t available, store raw meats in coolers filled with ice so the meat stays cold (about 41 degrees F).

Use separate coolers. Separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods, such as fruit and vegetables, to prevent cross-contamination.

Use a thermometer. To ensure meats are cooked properly, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperatures. Many meat thermometers have the recommended temperatures built in.

Don’t reuse marinades. Leftover marinades should be tossed and not reused, as they can contain harmful bacteria from the raw meats.

dinner meal in glass containers

dinner meal in glass containers

stir fry dinner meal or leftovers stored in glass containers

Photo by: Marek Uliasz ©Marek Uliasz

Marek Uliasz, Marek Uliasz

stir fry dinner meal or leftovers stored in glass containers

Monitor leftovers. Leftovers can stay outdoors for 2 hours if the temperature is below 90 degrees. Over 90 degrees, however, the maximum time food should be left in the hot sun is 1 hour. If you don’t want to toss the extras, designate several refrigerators to hold extras before they spend too much time outdoors.

Wash hands properly. Designate several houses to have the kids come in and wash their hands before digging into the food.

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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