Summer is officially here, which means a lot of us will be firing up the grill and heading out to barbeques and outdoor events! It’s always important to keep food safety in mind, but especially in the hot summer months. With temperatures reaching the 90’s and more people serving food outdoors, the risk of getting sick from a foodborne illnesses increases.
Enjoy the outdoor parties and family picnics, but keep these tips in mind so everyone stays safe!
Start with a clean surface! Always clean food prep areas with hot soapy water before preparing food. Wipe down outdoor grills and clean all coolers with hot soapy water. Always use clean utensils and serving platters.
Thaw meat safely! Always thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator, microwave or under cold running water. Never thaw frozen meat on the counter at room temperature.
Wash hands often! Always wash your hands before cooking and after handling raw meat, poultry, fish and eggs.
Avoid cross contamination! You never want to mix raw meats with prepared cooked foods. Keep raw meats separated, in different dishes, and use different utensils to handle them. Once you put raw meat on a grill, immediately place the dish and utensil aside. Use a clean plate and utensil when fully cooked meat is removed from the grill.
Marinades: Always marinate raw meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter at room temperature. Never reuse marinade that was on raw meat. If you dipped a basting brush into a bowl of marinade and brushed raw meat, you must discard the bowl of marinade when finished.
Avoid the Temperature Danger Zone! Food should never be kept between 41 degrees and 135 degrees for more than 2 hours, so don’t leave food sitting out for your party guests all afternoon. When outside in the hot summer sun, you shouldn’t keep food out for more than an hour. At these temperatures bacteria can grow rapidly.
Keep food below 40 degrees! Keep perishable foods stored in the refrigerator or in ice filled coolers until you are ready to cook or eat. When transporting food, pack perishables in a cooler and place the cooler out of direct sun. To be extra safe, place a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler to make sure food stays below 40 degrees.
Cook foods thoroughly! Always use a meat thermometer to make sure food is cooked thoroughly. Whole cuts of beef and pork should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees. Ground beef, pork and lamb should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees. All poultry should be cooked to minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Leftovers: Discard any food that has been left out for more than 2 hours (or more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees). When consuming leftovers at a later time, heat all food to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Of course, at PB&J we love all kinds of cooking. Summer time is prime grilling time. Grilling is actually a very healthy way to cook food (you don’t need to add lots of fat to the pan before cooking!) and who doesn’t love an excuse to be outside when the weather’s warm and sunny? It’s also nice to cook outside and not heat up your kitchen with your stove or oven on those sweltering summer days. Plus, grilled food just tastes more like summer, doesn’t it?
You know at PB&J we take cooking and make it healthy, so we decided to put together a simple guide to some of our most favorite grilled healthy foods (sorry, no bratwursts), along with some of our favorite grilling tools to help you be the (healthy) master of the grill!
general tips, a grill is going to put char (those little blackened bits) on
most everything cooked on it. This is part of the flavor and fun of cooking
this way! It may look burnt, but try it! You might love it! A grill will also
cook a lot faster if you have the cover on it, so cover it up and you’ll have a
delicious meal a whole lot faster!
Tools that can help any griller make a better
Cooking Spray- Grilling can get a little sticky, by
that we mean, grilled food can sometimes stick to the grill. If you use a
little cooking spray before lighting the grill, that should help keep your food
free from the stick!
Grill toppers- Grill toppers or trays are little trays made out of metal with lots of holes in them. They make it easier to keep smaller, more sticky items (small veggies, fruits, fish) from getting lost or stuck to the grill. We really like these ones.
Skewers- Metal are good, but they get screaming hot on the grill. Wood are good, too, but need to be soaked for a while before using so they don’t burn. Either way, they help keep small pieces of food together and prevent them from slipping through the cracks!
Long tongs- Grills get hot, of course! Keep your
fingers away from the flames with a long set of tongs. These will help you
place, flip, move, and remove all your food while keeping your hand cool!
Thermometer– A meat thermometer is a must when
grilling. Not only will it keep your food safe from germs, it will also help
from over-cooking, which is a real danger when grilling! Digital thermometers
are super-fast and easy to read, we recommend this one.
Our favorite foods to grill:
Asparagus- toss them in a tiny bit of olive oil and
salt, use a grill topper or be careful not to let them drop through the grate!
Grill for 10-12 minutes turning occasionally to cook evenly.
Corn- a staff favorite! You can peel back the husks, remove the
corn silk, then cover the corn back up and let it grill for 10-15 minutes, until
the husks are starting to char and burn. Be careful and use oven mitts when
removing the corn from the husks: it gets HOT! For bonus grill-ness, put the
husked corn back on the grill for some char right on the kernels!
Tomatoes- Cherry and grape tomatoes work best.
Stick them on a skewer and toss in a little bit of olive oil. Cook them for
just a few minutes, rotating halfway through, until they have a little bit of
char all around! YUM.
Peppers- Peppers are a classic grilled veggie,
they are great on skewers, or left whole or in large chunks and grilled. They
get sweeter and their skin takes on a nice char.
Zucchini/summer squash- Slice these into large planks, coat them
in a bit of oil, salt, and spices and grill them, flipping at least once, until
they have a good char and are soft enough to easily fall off a fork when stuck
Onions- Oh my, what to say about grilled onions?
Sweet, smoky, still a little crunch. They are famously delicious grilled veg,
and for good reason. Slice them into rings, season lightly with salt (and
spices if you like), and let them grill until charred and just translucent.
Broccoli/cauliflower- We love broccoli and cauliflower any way
you cook ‘em, but we love the extra flavor that the grill adds to them. Leave
them in big chunks, coat in olive oil, salt and your favorite spices and let
them cook for 7-10 minutes on a hot grill.
Chicken breast- chicken breast is very lean, so be
careful not to overcook it or it can get tough and stringy! We like to butterfly
it (slice width-wise so you end up with a thinner, wider cut of meat), season
it with salt and spices, and cook it over a medium hot grill. Cook over a
medium high grill to an internal temp of 165.
Chicken thighs- Thighs are super for the grill, they are
already thin enough to cook quickly and they taste great grilled up. We like
them basted in a simple sauce (even store-bought BBQ, buffalo, or hoisin
sauce). Cook over a medium high grill to an internal temp of 165.
Salmon- We love salmon on the grill. Use aluminum
foil over the grate or a grill topper to keep the salmon from sticking. Season
with salt or your favorite seasoning blend and grill over a medium low grill.
Turkey burgers/Lean beef burgers- We love a good burger. Lean ground meat
has less fat, and is healthier for your heart than meat with higher fat
content, but a little bit less flavor. So season up your burgers with your
favorite seasoning blend, then grill it on a medium hot grill until you hit an
internal temp of 165.
Tofu– Tofu gets a bad rap, sometimes its fair, sometimes not. It
can be a little boring, but we like slicing them into domino shaped slices,
basting them in a flavorful sauce, and grilling them for 3-4 minutes per side
on a super hot grill. Yum!
Flank/skirt steak- Flank and skirt steaks are born for the
grill! They are thin, and are best cooked at high heat for a short period of
time. Season them lightly with salt and a few spices, grill over a hot grill
for about 7 minutes per side, until you hit an internal temperature.
(What?! Fruits?! On the grill?! Trust us!)
Lemons- Slice a lemon in half, slap it on a hot
grill. It’s that easy.The juice loses some of the acidic edge,
and takes on a little smoky flavor, it makes a great complement to veggies, chicken,
and fish dishes.
Cherries/Grapes- Smaller fruits do well on a skewer or
grill tray. They get sweeter, and take on that smoky char flavor. These go
great in fruit salads, on top of ice cream or cakes, or as a topping for meats
Pineapple- One of our favorite fruits on the grill.
Remove the core (you can leave the skin if you want) and slice into inch-thick
rings. Grill on each side for 4-5 minutes and be prepared for a caramelly,
sweet-sour, delicious treat!
We love recipes here at PB&J. We love discovering new
recipe sites, spending hours reading cookbooks, trying exciting new recipes,
and of course, building the perfect recipes for our students! But recipes can
be time consuming! Sometimes recipes include exotic ingredients or they don’t use
all of what you have on hand. And sometimes you just need to put some food on
the table quick and easy!
To work around this issue, we are putting together a series
of what we call “un-recipes.” These are brief how-to’s on preparing and serving
some of the ingredients we are working with this summer.
First up: KALE! Kale is a PB&J favorite, as it is often
one of the more transformative foods for our students. Often when we introduce
students to kale we get a chorus of “ewwwww” and “yuuuuck!” Honestly, we get
it, it can be tough, very green, and even kind of looks like mini-alien-trees. But
by the end of our classes we have kids begging for more!
What is it?
Kale is a leafy green in the same family as broccoli,
cabbage, and collard greens. It has a mildly bitter-sweet flavor, and it can be
a little chewy (though the younger it is, the more tender and sweet it is).
What are 3 good ways
to eat it?
As a salad.
If you can get younger, small kale (3-4 inch leaves) you can
just tear it up and throw it in with your lettuce or other salad greens. If the
leaves are bigger, you can remove the stems, cut or tear the kale into
bite-sized pieces, then massage some olive oil (about 1 tbs per bunch) into the
kale to tenderize it before dressing it as you would any other salad. We love
kale with a lemon vinaigrette, Caesar dressing, or even Asian-inspired
vinaigrette with some soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.
If you’re looking for more of a hot dish to make with kale.
We love sautéed kale. Start by removing the stems and chopping it into
bite-sized pieces. Then, mince 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, or half an onion, 1 tsp
of chili flakes, or even 1 tbs of fresh ginger, you want a little bit of
something aromatic for flavor. Add 1 tbs of cooking oil to a hot skillet or
sautée pan over medium-high, and let it heat for 20-30 seconds. Then add the garlic,
onion and spices and let them cook until you can smell them. Then add the kale
and turn the heat down to medium. Let the greens go without stirring them for
3-4 minutes, until they start to turn dark green. Then give them a good stir
and let them cook until they’re all dark green and even have a few browned
Braised greens are great when the weather turns a bit
cooler. Start the greens the same way as sautéing, but when you would stir in
the sautéing version, add about 1-2 cups of liquid (water, stock, vinegar, any
liquid!) and let it cook until the liquid is mostly gone
Why is it good for
Kale is super healthful! It has lots of fiber, vitamin C,
vitamin A, and vitamin K.
How can I get it?
You can find good kale at almost every grocery store, you
can find different, colorful varieties at farmer’s markets, and it is supremely
easy to grow from seed if you have a garden!
From Tracey Cardwell Roberts, Manager of our CHEF for a Day field trip program
I’m old enough to remember the Life cereal ad campaign featuring a picky Mikey. His older brothers offer him the new cereal that’s “supposed to be good for you.” They say, “He won’t like it. He hates everything.” The tag line is then their shocked “He likes it! He likey!” Yes, I know it’s corny, but it was the 70’s. You wouldn’t believe how it caught on, the equivalent of “going viral” today.
Through our CHEF for a Day field trip program, I get to welcome a new group of students to PB&J each day. They come through the doors with eyes wide and a readiness to experience something new. I could pretend that my own children come to the dinner table every night with that same excitement, but we both know I’d be lying.
With students here at PB&J, I use the same “act” I’ve used with my own kids for fifteen plus years — I channel my inner actress and HAM IT UP. Come on, you knew this post couldn’t possibly avoid a Green Eggs and Ham pun. After pitching this idea to thousands of students, I still want to do a happy dance every single time I hear a child say, “I didn’t think I’d like this, but I do.” YES!
Here’s the goofy approach that has worked for me. First of all, it’s helpful to channel the enthusiasm
you would use to talk about the thing you love most, like when my son talks
endlessly to me about all the intricacies of his favorite video game.
Here’s my set-up: “Trying a new food is such an AWESOME adventure! I LOVE it when I get to try something new. When I’m about to taste it, I think to myself, “Will I like it?” I don’t know! It’s so exciting! Sometimes, when I take a bite of a new food, I think, “I’m not sure how I feel about it,” because the taste is so new. My taste buds are so SURPRISED that I don’t really get to taste the flavor of the food. After first feeling shocked, then my taste buds calm down. It often takes two or three bites before I really start to sense all the flavors of the new food.“ Some kids are more cautious about trying something new. Here are a couple ideas to positively encourage the ones who aren’t sure:
Ask them to “Take a bite and see if you can taste the (insert ingredient here).” If there are six ingredients, this is a great way to get them to take at least six bites. By that point, the flavor is familiar, and they usually keep eating. I like to make a big deal out of it if they say they can taste something I can’t. “Wow! Your taste buds are better than mine at that!”
Let your kids vote on the recipe like we do here at PB&J. They love to have their say with a simple thumbs up, thumb sideways, or thumbs down. We tell them that “At PB&J, we are never going to MAKE you eat something. You just don’t get to vote unless you try it. After all, you can’t say “I don’t like it” if you’ve never even tried it. You don’t KNOW if you like it.”
Be playful and encouraging. The exact words aren’t important. My wish is that you get to experience a “Mikey likey!” moment at your table. Don’t give up! It can happen! 😊
We had a busy spring in the kitchen! Over 19 weeks from January to May we held 164 classes with 915 participants. That adds up to a lot of meals and smiles! We’re
grateful to all of our partners, instructors and volunteers who helped to make
this semester a success.
We held 104 CHEF Kids classes with 172 students this spring. Our CHEF Kids unit themes were TexMex, Cooking Around the World, and Asian Cuisine. CHEF Kids classes occur after school for elementary and middle school students. One of our favorite recipes was Turkey Lettuce Wraps! Our partners for these classes included: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys & Girls Club of Central Virginia, Charlottesville Abundant Life Ministries, City of Promise, Community Attention, Community Housing Partners and Piedmont Housing Alliance.
26 CHEF Families classes were held with 125 parents and children. Our CHEF Families programs are held with ReadyKids and Young Lives. These classes introduce nutrition tips specific for families with young children, such as tips for picky eaters and age appropriate table manners. Our favorite CHEF Families recipe wasRed Lentil Curry which was also a recipe for Holiday Giving.
618 students from
both Charlottesville City and Albemarle County elementary schools come to the
kitchen for a field trip in our CHEF for a Day classes. These field trip
experience are for students in pre-kindergarten through third grade classes where
students make a simple but healthy and delicious recipe. Our curriculum
includes skills like reading a recipe, measuring ingredients and trying a new
To make all of our programs run smoothly we had the help of
46 volunteers from the community and Madison House. They helped us wash
countless dishes, helped kids with their knife skills and hopefully had fun,
too! We can’t wait to see what the kids cook up this summer!
We’re in a programming break until next week and have been
doing some Spring Cleaning! One thing we need to deal with during this time is
lots of left-over food items. We buy our groceries based on best estimates for attendance.
But classes get canceled for weather or other reasons from time to time. What
do we do with the leftovers? Maybe you have a lot of extra food in your pantry?
Or maybe you’re in a stretch where you need some help stocking your pantry?
have a diverse and strong community network of food resources as well as
community partners that take food donations.
We’ve compiled a list below. To find the most up to date list, please visit: https://www.brafb.org/find-help/pantry-locator/. If you are searching for additional resources, the United Way compiles an annual list of where to turn for support here: https://unitedwaytja.org/receive-support/.
DAYS OF WEEK OPEN
Holy Comforter Catholic Church
208 E. Jefferson Street, Charlottesville 434.293.8989
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Loaves and Fishes
2050 Lambs Road, Charlottesville 434.996.7868
Tuesdays and Thursdays
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church
717 Rugby Road, Charlottesville 434.293.8179
Bethany Seventh Day Adventist
401 Harris Street, Charlottesville 434.293.7430
New Beginnings Christian Community
1130 E. Market Street, Charlottesville 434.872.0800
Emergency Food Network
900 Harris Street, Charlottesville 434.979.9180
Every weekday (Call first between 9-12)
1:30-3:30 pm (pick-up same day)
112 W. Market Street, Charlottesville 434.973,1234
207 Ridge Road, Charlottesville 434.295.4058
7-8am, 12-12:30pm & 5:45-6:45pm
Church of Our Savior
1165 E. Rio Road, Charlottesville 434.973.6512
Monday and Wednesday
DAY OF WEEK
First United Methodist Church 101 E. Jefferson Street
Christ Episcopal Church 103 W. Jefferson Street
First Presbyterian 500 Park Street
Holy Comforter Catholic Church 208 E. Jefferson Street
Summer is coming! Step outside and you can already feel it in the air (and maybe your sweat glands). While we may not love the summer humidity, we love the summer produce! Here in Virginia, there are lots of great, local fruits and vegetables, but at PB&J we have to ask what the healthiest choice is. We went to Ms. Amy Curtis (our resident Registered Dietitian) to give us a break down of the health benefits of some of the fruits and vegetables that grow in the summer.
Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients that are great for your body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps your body heal. Vitamin A supports your immune system and helps your eyeballs see! Potassium is an electrolyte that helps with almost all of your body’s functions. And of course there’s fiber, which helps support your digestive system (stomach and intestines) and keeps you feeling full longer.
But which summer produce is good for which nutrient? Well, Ms. Amy put together some lists for us! She tells us that an excellent source of a nutrient is one that gives you 20% or more of your recommended daily value of that nutrient, while a good source gives you 10-19% of your daily value.