This prize was provided by The Coca-Cola Company. The Coca-Cola Company is not a sponsor, administrator or connected in any other way. RD Christina Rivera has teamed with Coca-Cola to bring you the following personal fiesta planning tips for the summer.
When school is out we need to put on our creative hats to entertain our loves ones. If one of your favorite warm weather activities includes grilling, but you are bored with the same foods that are served at every BBQ from now until Labor Day, why not try a new, creative (and nutritious!) take on BBQing this summer?
- Go beyond burgers: Thinking outside of the box when planning the menu is sure way to break up the monotony of the typical hamburger and hot dog BBQ fare. Varying the proteins and keeping it finger food friendly does not have to include a chef and hours of prep work. As an alternative, try chicken breast, bison and salmon, which are sold as patties and are just as easy to grill. For a twist on sliders, ground chicken or turkey breast or even a fish such as canned tuna or salmon can be made into mini sizes. This offers guests a portion that is just enough to enjoy their food without feeling stuffed. Kabobs made with shrimp, chicken or skirt steak are always a fan favorite and as simple as placing 1-2 ounces of protein on a wooden skewer. Here are a few hamburger alternatives from the Makobi Scribe recipe archive.
- Find a fresh take on fruits and vegetables: Incorporating fruits and vegetables into a BBQ as part of the main dish or simply as a side can be as easy as flipping a burger. Use sliced onions, zucchini, peppers or mushrooms to complete the kebab ideas mentioned above. Fruits like pineapple, mangos and peaches taste sweeter when cooked and can be added to a wooden skewer to make a fruit kebab. Slice the fruit and then mold using cookie cutters and you will transform fruit into something new and fun, thus making it more appealing to both kids and adults. In season vegetables such as asparagus, eggplant and tomatoes can be brushed with olive oil and placed on aluminum foil can be cooked on the grill for side dishes.
- Make simple swaps: When presented with an array of delicious food options, it can be difficult to choose what works within your lifestyle and calorie needs. Rather than depriving yourself of the foods you love and missing out, try swapping higher calorie options with foods that are more nutritious and just as enjoyable. Top burgers with avocado, kale, mushrooms or a low fat yogurt dip to save calories for other treats. To season your meats and vegetables, use fresh herbs (can be grown at home or purchased in a supermarket) like basil, rosemary or dill instead of marinades, which are typically loaded with salt. Your taste buds (and heart) will thank you. Including whole grain buns and pasta salads are another way to
enjoy your favorite side dishes without the guilt. The extra fiber will help you fill up and can work in your favor if overeating is a concern. To save calories in beverages enjoy the mini soda cans for a portion controlled size. Always drink as much water as possible to hydrate, especially during the summer season!
- Present nutritious options: We often don’t think of offering nutritious options for appetizers or sides in fear that nobody will eat them.
- Practice Food Safety: Be sure to keep raw meat away from fruits, vegetables, or any other dishes that may be served cold to prevent cross contamination. Keep a meat thermometer handy to ensure that all proteins are cooked thoroughly (aim for 145-160 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the type of protein and how well done you prefer it). Perishable foods should not be left out for more than 2 hours. If it is above 90 degrees outside, then no more than 1 hour.
- Do not burn your proteins: New research shows that when proteins are charred on the grill they form carcinogenic properties called HCA (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).To prevent this from happening, thaw your meats in the microwave for a few minutes prior to grilling, cook on a low flame for a longer period of time, or try use a marinade to lower the meat surface temperature. Last but not least, keep your guests busy with activities that will bring out the inner kid in everyone. Relay races, obstacle courses and bean bag tosses are just as much fun for the adults and are family friendly activities. For the sporty crowd, set up a volleyball net which can double as a badminton court. A sure way to get everyone out of their chairs is music – make a playlist of your favorite summer songs or hold a “dance off”. Remaining physically active throughout the day is a great way to balance out food and drink consumption. The best part is, these simple activities won’t cost a fortune and can be modified for any crowd.
Tell me your favorite outdoor summer party tip for a chance to win a Coca Cola Summer essentials kit!