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How To Make Grilling Healthier
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Summer is synonymous with many things, including family vacations and relaxing days at the beach. For foodies, perhaps nothing evokes the spirit of summer more effectively than grilled foods.

Grilling is a beloved tradition, but it's not necessarily the healthiest way to eat. Traditional backyard barbecue fare like hot dogs and hamburgers likely won't make physicians' hearts flutter, but there are ways to enjoy the flavor of grilling without compromising a nutritious diet.

· Replace burgers and hot dogs with healthy proteins. The occasional hamburger or hot dog won't do much damage, but people who regularly grill should skip these summertime staples and replace them with healthy proteins. The American Heart Association reports that fish and skinless chicken breasts are healthy alternatives to hamburgers and hot dogs. Burger devotees can still enjoy their go-to grilled food, but replace ground beef with lean ground poultry, which contains less saturated fat than red meat.

· Avoid overdoing it. Most people have overindulged at a backyard barbecue at one point or another. The relaxed, party-like atmosphere of the backyard barbecue makes it easy to snack on chips and other unhealthy fare before moving on to burgers and hot dogs. Hosts can do guests a favor by replacing snacks and sides like chips and potato salad with healthier fare like celery, fruit salad or chickpea salad. Keep portions of grilled fare as close to a healthy size as possible. The AHA notes that a healthy portion of meat is around three ounces and no more than six ounces.

· Create a salt-free rub. There's no denying salt makes food more flavorful. But that flavor comes at a high cost. The health care experts Piedmont note that excessive amounts of salt can contribute to inflammation from fluid retention and increase a person's risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure. Salt may be a go-to for many grilling enthusiasts, but it doesn't have to be. A salt-free rub made with chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and/or other spices is an effective and salt-free way to add flavor to meat, chicken and fish.

· Grill more vegetables. Grilled vegetables, whether they're part of kebabs or simply grilled alongside the main course, add significant flavor and provide all the health benefits of veggies cooked in more traditional ways. The AHA notes that coating vegetables in a healthy oil like olive oil makes it easy to grill them directly over an open flame without sticking. Cooking in this way imparts that signature smoky, grilled flavor to vegetables.

This summer, grilling can be as healthy as it is flavorful. All it takes is a few simple strategies to make the menu at your next backyard barbecue one any doctor would love. [/expand]
Myths About Grilling And Barbecuing, Debunked
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Grillmasters and pitmasters work hard to produce mouth-watering fare. Many may develop secret recipes, rubs, sauces, and cooking techniques all in the name of flavorful food.

Certain myths about grilling and barbecuing have prevailed through the years. Such misconceptions may discourage newcomers from picking up their tongs and spatulas. Setting the record straight about common grilling myths can be just what people need to embrace cooking foods over an open flame.

Myth #1: Hosting a barbecue is the same as cooking barbecue.

Fact: Barbecue is the process of cooking foods slowly with low heat, typically in a smoker. Having a barbecue is an informal backyard party where foods cooked over a grill are served.

Myth #2: You can tell the temperature of the grill by placing your hand over the grates.

Fact: Everyone reacts differently to heat, so the best way to gauge temperature is by using a thermometer.

Myth #3: Grilled chicken is done when the juices run clear.

Fact: Even well-done chicken can form juices that are pink-hued. It's from a protein called myoglobin, according to the book "Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling." Use a cooking thermometer to learn when poultry is safe to eat, typically at 160 to 165 F.

Myth #4: Marinating is best for grilling and tenderizing.

Fact: It seems that marinades really do not penetrate much beyond the surface of the meat and can keep the outer surface of the food wet, preventing searing and browning. Rubs and salts can be more effective at adding flavor. Serve a dipping sauce for additional flavor if people desire.

Myth #5: Light up the whole grill for best cooking.

Fact: Temperature control is a key component of effective grilling and barbecuing. Having two temperature zones - direct, radiant heat for searing, and an indirect zone for grilling meat evenly and preventing burning - can make food more tasty.

Myth #6: More smoke equals better food.

Fact: When cooking, faint wisps of blue smoke are better because blue smoke is made of tiny invisible particles and gases created by small, hot, fast-burning fires. White smoke generally comes from smoldering wood that is starved for oxygen, states the cooking site Food52. All of that white smoke can affect the flavor of the food.

Myth #7: Oil the grates to prevent food from sticking.

Fact: This may or may not work, depending on the temperature of the grates when the oil is applied. A better method is to oil the food, which will be cold so the oil will keep from burning and cracking. [/expand]
How To Avoid Food Poisoning When Grilling This Summer
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Cooking over an open flame produces a unique flavor that's difficult to match. The smoky flavor of grilled foods is hard to resist, especially on summer nights that seem tailor-made for cooking and dining outside.

Cooking over a flame comes with certain safety risks, and those risks are easily mitigated with some simple strategies. It's equally important that grilling enthusiasts make an effort to reduce the risk of food poisoning when grilling. Dishes used to cook indoors are routinely scrubbed clean after a good meal, but grills rarely garner the same level of post-meal attention, which can increase the risk for food poisoning. And a less-than-spotless grill grate isn't the only food poisoning risk linked with grilling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer these tips to avoid food poisoning when grilling in the months ahead.

· Separate raw foods before grilling. Cross-contamination can contribute to food poisoning. The CDC suggests efforts to prevent cross-contamination should begin at the grocery store. Foods should be kept separate in grocery carts and bags, and packages of raw meat and poultry should be kept in their own individual bags.

· Keep foods cool at all times. The CDC recommends picking up meat, poultry and seafood right before checking out so the food remains as cool as possible at all times. If it's a long drive from the store to home, which can be the case when grilling foods that must be purchased at specialty stores or fisheries instead of traditional neighborhood grocery stores, shoppers can place items in insulated coolers and keep them at 40 F or below. All raw meat, poultry or seafood should be refrigerated until cooks are ready to place it on a grill.

· Thaw foods safely. The CDC notes that foods should never be thawed on a counter, even if they're in a pot or bowl of lukewarm water. Foods should be thawed in a refrigerator or by utilizing the defrost function on a microwave.

· Marinate safely. Like thawing, marinating should always be done in a refrigerator, regardless of which type of marinade is being used. When marinating foods are ready for cooking, discard the marinade and clean the dish immediately to avoid contamination.

· Routinely clean hands when handling raw meat, poultry and seafood. Cooks should wash their hands thoroughly after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood. Wet hands, lather them with soap and then scrub for at least 20 seconds. Make sure hands are dried on a clean towel, and repeat this process any time raw meat is touched.

· Clean the grill thoroughly. A grill should be given a thorough cleaning before each use. The CDC urges individuals using a wire bristle brush to thoroughly inspect the grilling surface before lighting a flame and cooking. Wire bristles can be dislodged during cleaning, and then end up on food, where they can pose a significant health hazard once foods are eaten.

· Always place cooked foods on clean dishes. Cooked foods should never be placed back on the dishes or in the containers where they were stored prior to being cooked. Doing so can lead to food poisoning and illness.

· Cook foods to the appropriate temperature. Foods require different cooking temperatures, and cooks are encouraged to determine those temperatures for each food they grill. Utilize a meat thermometer to ensure foods are cooked hot enough to kill germs.

Safe grilling includes doing everything possible to prevent food poisoning. [/expand]
Let A Jerk Rub Add Some Kick To Your Next Backyard Barbecue
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The options are endless when grilling foods. Traditional fare like hot dogs and hamburgers will always be big hits at backyard barbecues, but men and women hosting barbecues need not feel beholden to such traditional fare. Expanding the menu can be part of the fun when barbecuing in the backyard, particularly for those hosts and guests who like a little kick with their food cooked over an open flame.

Jamaican jerks pastes, also called "rubs," that are made of spices, herbs and onions are the most popular and authentic jerk flavoring method. Rubs are rubbed all over the surface of the raw meat to create a wholly unique and potentially very spicy flavor.

This recipe for "Jerk Rub" from Helen Wilinski's "Jerk From Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style" (Ten Speed Press) is a medium-hot paste that can easily be made hotter by adding more chilies or hot pepper sauce. Less heat is also doable and simply requires chefs to remove the seeds and ribs of the chilies before grinding them. Whichever route you take, be sure that this rub is only served to those guests with a love and tolerance for spicy food.

Jerk Rub

Makes about 1 cup; enough for 4 to 6 pounds of meat

• 1 onion, finely chopped

• 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions, including green parts

• 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

• 2 teaspoons salt

• 1 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice

• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 4 to 6 Scotch bonnet or habanero chilies, minced fine

• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, combine all the ingredients and grind to a paste. Store leftover paste in the refrigerator in a tightly closed jar for about 1 month. [/expand]
Bite Into These Facts About Hot Dogs
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Hot dogs are the yin to the hamburger's yang. Franks and burgers are a common pair at barbecues and ballparks, and rightfully so. Handheld, portable meals, they pack a convenient and flavorful punchy.

Few foods may seem as American as hot dogs. However, hot dogs are derivative of European sausages. This fact and more can shed light on the humble hot dog, which is sure to find its way to a grill near you this summer.

· Mental Floss says it's pretentious to consume a hot dog with utensils. Hot dog etiquette experts also insist adults should not top their hot dogs with ketchup, which they suggest is a topping strictly reserved for children.

· Hot dogs are often associated with New York City. However, hot dogs gained popularity across the country in the 20th century.

· Hot dogs are often called frankfurters. This refers to Frankfurt, Germany, where pork sausages similar to hot dogs are believed to have originated.

· Hot dogs were given their name by cartoonist Tad Dorgan. He observed a vendor selling "hot dachshund sausage dogs" during a baseball game at New York City's Polo Grounds. As legend has it, Dorgan couldn't spell the name of the dog, instead writing only "hot dogs." The name eventually caught on.

· Despite several jokes as well as speculation regarding what hot dogs contain, hot dogs are cured and cooked sausages that contain mainly pork, beef, chicken, and turkey. The meats come from the muscle of the animals. If a product contains organ meats, it must be declared on the packaging.

· In 1867, Charles Feltman made a cart with a stove on it, which he used to boil sausages. The cart also had compartments to keep buns fresh. Carts that sell hot dogs on the street are now seen in cities across the country.

· Hot dogs are a NASA-approved food for astronauts.

· While hot dogs are sold at many venues, data indicates that the popular convenience store chain 7-Eleven sells the most grilled hot dogs in North America, with 100 million sold annually.

· Relish, sauerkraut and even ketchup are popular hot dog toppings. But mustard is by far the most popular.

· Why are there typically 10 hot dogs per pack and only eight buns per bag? When hot dogs were first introduced, they were sold at varying quantities at the butcher shop. Hot dogs were eventually standardized to packages of 10, but buns are baked in clusters of four in popular pans designed to hold eight rolls.

Hot dogs are a summertime staple that have an interesting and extensive history. [/expand]
Tips To Grill A Juicier Burger
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Summer weekends wouldn't be the same without backyard barbecues. And no backyard barbecue is complete without hamburgers.

The exact origins of the hamburger are unknown, but historians believe this beloved staple of American barbecues can be traced to mid-nineteenth century Germany. According to History.com, political revolutions in Germany in the 1840s spurred many Germans to emigrate to the United States. Germans brought many of their cultural traditions with them, including their cuisine. One such dish was the chopped steak, which can be traced to Hamburg, a city renowned for its high-quality beef. Though few might now see ground beef as a remedy for digestive issues, that was a common belief in the 1860s, when a New York-based doctor named James Salisbury suggested that cooked beef patties could benefit the digestive system as much as chopped, chipped or ground beef. Buns were not yet in the picture at that time, but they were by 1904, when beef patties on buns were available at the St. Louis World's Fair. In 1921, the first White Castle restaurant opened in Kansas, and hamburgers have been a staple of American cuisine ever since.

Though it's been a century since White Castle opened its first restaurant, people are still perfecting the art of making the perfect hamburger. Exactly what defines the perfect hamburger may be open to debate, but there's no denying the desirability of juicy burgers. As grillmasters prepare for another season of backyard barbecues, the following are some ways they can make their burgers more juicy.

· Avoid extra-lean meat. Extra-lean meat might be healthier than the alternatives, but 93 percent lean ground beef is unlikely to produce juicy burgers. When making burgers from scratch, opt for 80 percent lean. WebMD notes that fat helps to hold burgers together while searing and cooking the meat. The result is a more juicy interior than cooks are likely to get when using lean meats.

· Swap beef for lamb. Cookbook author John Holl notes in his book, "The American Craft Beer Cookbook" (Storey), that substituting ground beef with ground lamb makes for a juicier burger. Lamb is moist, so unlike lean beef, it can be grilled as well-done without drying out. Lamb also offers a different taste than beef, adding a little variety to a backyard barbecue.

· Saddle your spatula. Flipping the burgers too much or pressing them against the grill as they cook can dry them out.

· Be conscious of carryover cooking time. Carryover cooking time refers to the length of time temperature in a food continues to rise even after it's been removed from a cooking area. Beef is among the many foods that continue to cook after being removed from a heat source, so beef burgers can be removed from the grill before they reach the desired cooking temperature. This prevents drying out and ensures that once they're served, the burgers will be juicy and safe to eat.

Grilling a juicy burger is easily accomplished with a few simple and time-tested strategies.[/expand]
How To Cut Costs On Your Summer Road Trip
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The most memorable road trips are often the byproduct of ample planning. Careful examinations of maps months before a trip begins can help vacationers find the best sights to see and uncover must-visit restaurants. In fact, many people find pre-trip planning nearly as enjoyable as the trip itself.

Vacationers who planned road trips months ago likely did not think they would be forced to contend with extraordinarily high gas prices, but that's precisely the position drivers find themselves in this summer. The average gas price in many parts of North America exceeded $5 U.S. dollars per gallon by early June, and economic forecasters predicted prices could climb even higher as June gives way to the summer travel season.

High gas prices likely won't compel most vacationers to cancel their travel plans this summer. And those who are staying the course can rest easy knowing there are plenty of ways for them to cut costs and still enjoy a memorable summer road trip in the months ahead.

· Book a vehicle maintenance appointment. Prior to heading for parts unknown, visit your local auto body shop and have your car or truck serviced. The U.S. Department of Energy notes that regular engine tune-ups to ensure a vehicle is running efficiently increases fuel economy by an average of 4 percent. Schedule an oil change and tune-up shortly before your departure date so your car won't be forced to work extra hard, and thus consume extra fuel, during your trip.

· Reconsider your ride. Vacationers with more than one car to choose from may want to reconsider which car they drive on their road trip this summer. For example, families with one SUV and one sedan may save money by driving the sedan instead of the SUV, which is likely less fuel-efficient than the smaller vehicle. In addition, consider the type of fuel each of your cars requires and let that inform your decision. For instance, certain vehicles require more expensive high-octane fuel. If you own a car that requires the more budget-friendly regular 87 octane fuel, take that one on the road with you this summer.

· Look to save on lodging. Roadside motels have undergone something a rebirth in recent years. Many motels have been given full makeovers but remain budget-friendly lodging options for road trippers. Motels won't offer all the amenities of five-star hotels, but they're affordable places for vacationers to lay their heads for a night before traveling on to the next adventure the following morning.

· Take your foot off the gas. Another way to conserve fuel during a summer road trip is to resist the temptation to drive too fast. Avoiding excessive speeds isn't just safer; it's also more fuel-efficient. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy reports that fuel economy for a light-duty vehicle traveling at 80 miles per hour is about 27 percent lower than when traveling at 60 miles per hour.

Vacationers may be worried that high fuel costs will bust their budgets during road trips this summer. But there are various ways to cut costs and still enjoy memorable trips, even when fuel prices are especially high.[/expand]
Great Summertime Leisure Activities
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A warm breeze on a summer day embodies the spirit of this beloved season for millions of people. Seen by many as a season to relax and recharge, summer, not coincidentally, goes hand in hand with leisure.

With more time on their hands due to vacations from school and work and less hectic activity schedules, particularly for families that include school-aged children, individuals often find summer affords more time for leisure. With that in mind, people from all walks of life can consider these summertime leisure activities.

· Relax by the water: Whether it's a pool, lake or even the ocean, the water beckons each summer. Simply sitting on a beach or beside a lake or pool is a great way to pass the time without much stress. Nothing needs to be scheduled when relaxing poolside, lakeside or on a beach; simply enjoy some time to relax by the water.

· Paddleboarding: Paddleboarding is another leisurely way to spend a summer day. Paddleboarding requires physical exertion, so this might not be the ideal activity for those looking to relax without lifting a finger. However, paddleboarders typically take to the water when it's at its most calm, making this a great activity for those who want to capitalize on peaceful, serene summer vibes.

· Fishing: Few activities may be more relaxing than fishing. Though there are many different ways to fish, some of which require considerable physical effort, casting a line and waiting for a fish to bite is a relaxing way to spend a day in nature. That might not seem like much to novices, but spending time in nature has been found to reduce stress and lower heart rates, which the U.S. Forest Service notes are both risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

· Read: Books make for great companions on warm summer afternoons. Reading is such a popular summer pastime that many bookstores set up displays featuring books that make for great beach reads, providing inspiration for individuals who aren't sure which book or books to dive into this summer. And much like other summertime leisure activities, reading has been linked to reducing stress. A 2009 study from researchers at the University of Sussex in England found that reading can reduce stress by as much as 68 percent.

· Visit a museum: On summer afternoons when it's raining or too hot outside or individuals simply want to spend some time indoors, a museum makes for the perfect place to visit. Museums do not typically draw crowds in summer, making this an ideal season to visit. Many offer discounted prices to individuals like seniors and students, so this is a great way to relax without breaking the bank.

Summer is a season of leisure, and there are many activities that align with that spirit of relaxation.[/expand]
Must-Have Items For Summer Entertaining In The Backyard
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Summer entertaining season provides ample opportunities to soak up some sun and have some fun with family and friends. Backyard barbecues and other get-togethers at home are even more fun when hosts ensure they have certain must-have items for summer soirees.

· Fire features: The days when summer hosts only needed a few extra lawn chairs and some burgers and hot dogs on the grill for a backyard barbecue are long gone. Though those items still have a place at backyard barbecues, summer parties have taken a step up. Fire features, whether it's a standalone fire pit, one built into a patio or a gas-powered fire table, are now wildly popular. Fire features provide a welcome place to relax and converse with guests after the sun goes down. And much to kids' delight, a fire feature also paves the way for some post-meal s'mores.

· Insulated wine cooler: Coolers are great places to store water, soda, beer, seltzers, and other popular beverages. But what about wine? An insulated wine cooler ensures wine stays properly cooled but doesn't get too cold, which can happen when wine is stored in a more traditional cooler filled with ice. Bottles are simply placed in the insulated cooler (much like canned beverages slide easily into can koozies), and the bottle can be kept on the table much like you would for formal dinners indoors. Hosts can go the extra mile by pairing insulated wine tumblers with their wine cooler.

· Games: Summer entertaining season might be all about relaxation, but games can up the fun factor at backyard gatherings. Cornhole is a wildly popular game, and customized cornhole boards can help hosts come across as party professionals. Ladder toss, bocce and wiffle ball are some additional games that can make the festivities more fun. Hosts who don't have a pool also can invest in an inflatable pool big enough to fit all the kids who will be coming to the party.

· Outdoor storage cabinet: Hosts can save themselves the stress and effort of walking in and out for dinnerware and other table accessories by investing in a sturdy outdoor storage cabinet. As meal time draws near, hosts will appreciate that all the plates, napkins, utensils, and placemats are already outside. The top of the storage cabinet can double as a small but convenient buffet station for sides that aren't being cooked over an open flame.

· Projector and screen: A projector and screen can really up the ante on summer entertaining, turning a backyard barbecue into a great place to watch a game or cuddle up after dinner for a movie night under the stars. Projectors and screens won't bust the budget, but those who have more to spend may want to consider an outdoor television. Outdoor televisions are built to handle the glare of the summer sun, but a retractable awning may be a good safety net for hosts who plan to spend many a weekend afternoon outside watching games or movies with family and friends.

These are just a handful of items that can up the ante on traditional backyard barbecues. Homeowners should know that there's no limit to the number of items that can make summer entertaining season more special.[/expand]
The Nutritional Benefits Of Peaches
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Pies, cobblers and smoothies might be the first things that come to mind when people think of peaches. Perhaps nutrition needs to muscle its way into that discussion?

Peaches are typically viewed as a sweet treat, particularly in summertime. But peaches also provide a host of health benefits, which can make anyone who enjoys a peach-based sweet treat feel a little better about their indulgence.

Peaches and heart health

Peaches are rich in vitamins and minerals, including potassium. The potassium content in peaches, though moderate, is still significant, as the American Heart Association notes that potassium plays an important role in the management of high blood pressure. In addition, a 2014 animal study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry found that consumption of peach and plum juice provided protection against cardiovascular disease.

Peaches and body weight

One of the keys to long-term health is the ability to maintain a healthy weight from childhood through adulthood. The Cleveland Clinic estimates that a single large peach contains just 68 calories. Peaches also do not contain any saturated fats, making them a good low-calorie snacking option that can help people maintain a healthy weight.

Peaches and cancer risk

A report from the American Institute for Cancer Research linked fruits with a lower risk for cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lung, and stomach. Peaches are rich in free radical-fighting vitamin C. That could explain their link to reducing cancer risk, as free radicals are unstable atoms that often contribute to cell damage that is a hallmark of cancer. In addition, MedicineNet reports that peaches are high in polyphenols, which studies have found prevent the formation and spread of cancer cells in lab tests.

Peaches and vision

Peaches also can have a positive impact on vision. According to the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University, a medium-sized peach provides roughly 6 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin A. That's helpful for vision, as the American Optometric Association notes that vitamin A supports functioning of the conjunctival membranes and cornea. In addition, the AOA reports that vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children.

Peaches have a well-earned reputation as a sweet treat. However, the powerful peach is more than just a post-meal palate cleanser, and in fact can play a vital role in promoting long-term health.