Home At Home With Kowalski's Good Foods for Good Health Eat, Drink And Be Merry: Three Lifesaving Summer Tips

Eat, Drink And Be Merry: Three Lifesaving Summer Tips

Summer. Who doesn't love the seasonal foods, the warmth and the sun? But with the sun and fun come risks. They're easy enough to navigate if you're in the know but can be problematic pitfalls if you're not. Here are three top tips for enjoying the delightful days ahead.


When the heat is on, bacteria multiply quickly, substantially upping the risk for food poisoning. Watch the clock. Foods may sit at room temperature up to 2 hours without much concern for spoilage. But when temperatures top 80°, that time is cut in half. It's also important to fully chill perishable foods before taking them outdoors. The clock starts ticking once they leave the refrigerator or cooler. Once outside, cover all foods to prevent bacteria-carrying bugs from landing on them.

Firing up the grill? Food safety applies here as well. Exposure to heat and smoke may trigger the formation of two cancer-causing substances in grilled foods. Researchers believe both heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) change cells' DNA. That change can initiate the growth of abnormal cells, which have the potential for turning into cancer cells. To significantly cut your exposure:

  • Marinate meat, fish or poultry before grilling to reduce HCA formation by up to 99%.
  • Rosemary, garlic and sage may block the formation of HCAs and PAHs. Use them in marinades or in other dishes.
  • High cooking temperatures fuel HCA and PAH formation. Allow coals to cool a bit before cooking; move the grill rack up or place a barrier between your foods and the grill such as cooking in a foil pan. Minimize drippings to minimize smoke.
  • Cook smaller pieces of meat, fish and poultry. They'll likely spend less time over the heat than larger cuts.
  • Serve grilled foods with cancer-fighting accompaniments. The antioxidants and phytonutrients in fruits, vegetables and even tea may stall or stop HCA formation.
  • Drink

    Watermelon Freeze

    Hot weather dehydrates you, perhaps more than you realize. By the time you feel thirsty, you may be well on your way to being dehydrated. An average person sweats between 3 to 6 cups of "water" per hour during exercise. Add in hot and humid conditions and the loss is even greater. Losing just 1% of your body weight from sweating makes your heart work harder; a 2% loss means you're officially dehydrated.

    You may not feel thirsty if you're busy exercising, being active or simply not thinking about drinking. Young kids and older adults are at an even greater risk for dehydration because they're less sensitive to thirst. Watch for early symptoms of trouble:

    • Dry mouth
    • Dry, warm skin
    • Dizziness or headache
    • Cramping in the arms and legs
    • Irritability and drowsiness

    Just about any beverage, sans alcohol, can help you stay ahead of or replenish fluid loss. If exercising, water is a great rehydrating liquid. If you're exercising intensely or in high heat for more than 30-60 minutes, sports drinks may be a better option because they also replace sodium and potassium lost through sweat. To minimize the risk of dehydration:

    • Avoid activity during the hottest part of the day.
    • Wear sunscreen. Sunburn limits your body's ability to cool itself.
    • Wear loose, light clothing and a hat to help sweat evaporate and cool your body. Dark clothes absorb heat, which can accelerate fluid loss.

    Be Merry

    Everybody knows sunscreen is key to happy, healthy skin. Summer's intense sun can be especially tough on your epidermis. Luckily, it's deliciously easy to eat your way to healing with summer's bounty. Vitamin A and C-rich foods help shield the skin from UV damage. Try cantaloupe, peppers, mangoes, tomatoes, spinach, kale, peaches, nectarines or any of these jolly good skin-saving foods:

    • Nuts and seeds (for cell-protecting vitamin E and selenium)
    • Green tea or black tea with citrus peel and fish rich in omega-3 – such as tuna, trout, salmon and halibut (for anti-inflammatory action)
    • Coffee (for antioxidants)
    • Beans (for zinc that helps repair and renew cells)

    Join Sue Moores for How to Pick the Perfect Peach and Fabulous Fish – Easy Tasty Ways for Cooking Fish at Home. Classes will be held in May and June at the White Bear Lake, Stillwater, Eagan and Woodbury Markets. For the complete schedule and to register, please visit our Classes page.

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