The “Fit Foodie” Chef Mareya Ibrahim shares helpful tips to make your summertime gatherings memorable for all the right reasons
The official start of the grilling and picnic season kicks off this Memorial Day weekend and there’s no better time of year to gather and bask in the sun-kissed weather while you enjoy the delights of the flame and fridge. While the warmest months are ideal for dining al fresco, they also create the perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria, contaminants and foodborne illness. That’s why Chef Mareya, The Fit Foodie - eatCleaner® inventor and founder of Grow Green Industries, Inc. wants to make sure you have all the right information to avoid attracting these unwanted guests at your next gathering.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the risk of food poisoning is highest during the summer months, in part because bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments (like those deviled eggs or spinach salad blistering in the sun). Handling food outdoors also means more opportunity for contaminants like dirt, germs, and bugs to infiltrate your meal, and creates a challenging setup for safe food preparation practices, such as thorough and frequent hand washing, proper refrigeration, and using clean utensils to avoid cross-contamination.
Does that mean it’s time to pack it in and give up barbecues and picnics forever? No way! While outdoor food handling does require a bit more attention to things like cooking temperature and hygiene, you can save yourself and your guests from harmful foodborne pathogens by following Chef Mareya’s simple guidelines:
1. Keep It Clean
Clean everything from hands and preparation surfaces to food and utensils often. Using a high quality, multi-purpose food grade wash like eatCleaner Food Grade Wash, formulated to remove up to 99.99 percent of the residue and bacteria that water can’t provides the necessary ‘peas’ of mind that germs and contaminants are not welcome at your party. Clean the outer surface of melons and other rind vegetables and fruits thoroughly before slicing. eatCleaner Biodegradable Wipes are a great solution for these quick cleaning needs, and do not require rinsing.
2. Separate Your Plate
To deal with the bacteria enemy, draw your lines firmly on the plate. Make sure to keep high-risk foods like raw meat and fish, uncooked vegetables and leafy greens separate from cooked food. Use a clean plate for each new food item, and be sure to avoid potential cross-contamination by cleaning or using new utensils for each new dish. If you are cutting foods, take care to use a different cutting board for each and clean your knives thoroughly. eatCleaner Biodegradable Wipes are food-grade, and can be used on hands, surfaces and utensils.
3. Check Time and Heat
Heat is the enemy of raw and cooked foods, especially those with animal protein. If you’re planning a picnic or barbecue away from home, make sure to pack plenty of ice in a cooler and once people are done eating, promptly move perishables out of the sun. Perishable food should never sit out for more than two hours and if the temperature is above 90°F, one hour is the max. You can set a timer on your smart phone to keep track. To avoid exposure to bugs and debris, keep food covered at all times. Pro Tip: To keep food extra chilled, place a baking pan within a larger baking pan and secure with a piece of putty; fill larger pan within 1 inch of top with water and freeze; stack foods within smaller baking pan.
4. Watch the Burn
While it might taste good to have a little char on your food, it’s not necessarily good for you. Soak rosemary branches in water for 30 minutes and place on top of your cooked meats and veggies. Rosemary can help combat the free radicals created by that char that can also be cancer causing. Adding fresh rosemary can also help with preventing bacteria infection from foodborne pathogens, not to mention infusing fabulous flavor and aroma to foods.
Stay food-wise by practicing these simple protocols, and you can enjoy a safe, healthy, worry-free eating experience in the beautiful outdoors. Discover more food safety tips and scrumptious, time-saving recipes at www.EatCleaner.com, and snag your copy of Chef Mareya’s all-new “Grill ‘n Chill” guide, packed with creative starters, refreshing drinks, and zesty main dishes guaranteed to keep them coming back for more. Learn how to quickly craft gourmet-style dishes and drinks, like Creamy Med-Mex Guac, the Berry Bliss Mocktail, and Rosemary Garlic Lemon Chicken and Veggie Skewers, and receive a discount code for Eat Cleaner products that will keep your food clean and safe year-round.
Find out more at www.EatCleaner.com.
A favorite summer recipe from Chef Mareya:
Creamy MedMex Guac
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 avocados, flesh removed
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 lime, juiced plus 1 tsp zest, grated
1. Blend avocado flesh and Greek yogurt with a fork until smooth; use a stick blender or regular blender for maximum creaminess.
2. Add remaining ingredients and blend. Adjust seasonings as desired. Serve with cut veggies or as a topping for GRILLED CHICKEN.