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Summer "Heat" for Healthy Food

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It’s likely the heat of summer is starting to play at a location near you! For many it means more outdoor grilling. Yes, it’s hot, but cooking outside keeps the heat out there, the kitchen cool and makes it easier to clean everything up.

asparagus_grill1.jpgThere’s still plenty of ways to get your customers eating healthy. Fresh, crisp, cold, and “hot” are the operative words for foods of this season. Fruits and vegetables are at their best; cold soups are a great way to cool with taste. And “hot” — as in peppers, seasoning and spices — are a natural way to flavor chicken and other meats and everything from soup to dessert.

With the growing emphasis on reducing our intake of sodium, introducing foods with some heat is a healthy way to entertain the taste buds. So let’s look at some quick ways to introduce some summer heat to our outdoor sizzle:

• Cold soups are a natural. Gazpacho is a great fit since it can take advantage of summer tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, celery and peppers. Like salsa, make it mild or hot and alter the texture to your liking. Serve it chunky or blended for a smooth soup. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, a touch of cilantro or a dusting of cumin.

• Looking for a way to pep up watermelon? Try a dash of hot pepper sauce or some freshly ground pepper.

• Freshly grated ginger adds zip to summer fruit cups, grilled fish or chicken and shrimp or tuna salads. Sliced cucumbers go well with a touch of ginger, some rice vinegar and sesame oil. Using finely chopped, candied ginger adds some sweet and heat. Try it on gelato, banana, berry and pineapple desserts.

• Vegetable and fruit kebobs are an easy way to add glamour to outdoor eating. Remember that bamboo or wood skewers should be soaked in water at least 30 minutes before they hit the hot grill to prevent burning.

(Photo credit: woodleywonderworks)

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