Savour the End of Summer

brought to us by Kelsey Kennedy, RD

It’s here. The unofficial end to summer, that is – otherwise known as the Labour Day long weekend. For many this also means it’s time for one last hurrah before vacations end and kids return to class for another year. What could be a better way to say so long to summer than with an easy cookout? If you’re planning to fire up the barbeque this weekend, here are some tips to help you savour a safe and healthy meal. 

Food Safety


  • Prevent cross contamination (the spread of bacteria from one food or surface to another) by using clean utensils and plates when removing cooked meats from the grill.


  • Bacteria thrive and multiply at room temperature. To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. If heading to the cottage is part of your weekend plans, bring along a cooler to transport groceries on your road trip.


  • A digital thermometer is a smart buy, not just for grilling but also for other methods of cooking. Checking the temperature is the only way to know for sure that meat, fish, and poultry is cooked safely. To check the temperature of meat on the barbeque, take it off the grill and insert the thermometer through the thickest section.


  • The safe internal temperature varies by food, so keep this chart handy:

    • Steak (medium-rare) – 63 degrees F (145 degrees C) 

    • Steak (medium) - 71 degrees F (160 degrees C)

    • Steak (well-done) - 77 degrees F (170 degrees C)

    • Burger - 71 degrees F (160 degrees C)

    • Pork - 71 degrees F (160 degrees C)

    • Poultry pieces - 74 degrees F (165 degrees C)

    • Whole chicken - 85 degrees F (185o degrees C

    • Hot dog - 74 degrees F (165 degrees C)


Source: Government of Canada: Food Safety Tips For Barbecuing

The dog days of summer may be over but don’t fret. Relax and unwind this Labour Day and make the most of the long weekend!.

Marinades Matter


  • Marinating is a great way to tenderize meat and add a lot of flavour. For the perfect marinade, the equation is simple: oil + acid + seasoning. The magic is in the acid, which works to break down proteins in meat and increase tenderness. If you have fresh herbs straight from your home garden, lucky you! Use these garden goodies to explore your favourite flavour combinations. For marinating and grilling times as well rub and marinade recipes, check out this useful guide from EatingWell.


  • For best results, avoid using metal containers while marinating as this can cause a reaction that alters tastes. Instead, choose glass, plastic, or ceramic containers and marinate in the fridge to keep food safe.


  • Marinating does more than flavour food, it also protects from the formation of HCA’s (heterocyclic amines) that can develop when meat is cooked at high temperatures. While barbequed meat is safe when cooked properly, there is evidence to suggest that a heavy intake of HCA’s may increase the risk of certain types of cancer. To minimize this risk, marinate meat before grilling and wrap with foil to stop juices from directly hitting the flame. Avoid charring meat and scrape off any blackened bits before eating. 

Think Outside the Box
  • When it comes to meal planning on the barbeque, think outside the box. Consider making this Labour Day a meatless Monday by experimenting with tempeh, Portobello burgers, veggie burgers, veggie skewers or even grilled pizza. And if it’s meat you are craving, beware of hidden sources of sodium in processed meats like sausages, hot dogs, and frozen burgers. Boost burger appeal by making your own with lean ground beef, turkey, grilled chicken, or salmon. Put a healthier spin on barbeque classics by serving them on whole wheat buns and with plenty of veggie toppings and sides. 

Summer may be winding down, but it doesn’t officially end until September 23. Whether you have big plans for this upcoming weekend or not, don’t let go of summer just yet. Have a great weekend folks!

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© 2018 by The Dietitians Network of Nova Scotia.