CHEF JEFF: The toast of tailgatingThe major college football season is getting into full swing. And no matter which local team you’re cheering for — UND, North Dakota State University or Minnesota — when it comes to tailgating, most fans are in agreement: Food can make or break a party.
The major college football season is getting into full swing. And no matter which local team you’re cheering for — UND, North Dakota State University or Minnesota — when it comes to tailgating, most fans are in agreement: Food can make or break a party.
And when you get right down to it, proper food preparation, storage and handling are what determine the winners from the losers.
If you’re ever gotten sick from a food-borne illness, you know what I’m talking about. It can be a miserable experience. Fortunately, there are steps tailgaters can take to make sure their Saturday fun doesn’t turn into a trip to the emergency room.
Javin Bedard, environmental health supervisor with Grand Forks Public Health Department, says there are several important things tailgaters can do to keep their food safe. But the bottom line is, “keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold and try to avoid cross-contamination.”
Among the other tips offered by Bedard:
• Make sure raw foods are separated from ready-to-eat foods. Using separate coolers is a good idea.
• Do not use the same utensils for raw and ready-to-eat foods.
• Make sure you are cooking foods at the appropriate temperature. “The only way to be sure is to use a thermometer; color is not a good indicator.”
• Washing hands is important. “You want to wash your hands if working with raw meat; soap and water is best option. A hand sanitizer is better than nothing but doesn’t replace hand-washing.”
Bedard said Public Health has oversight on anything that is sold or given to the public at events such as tailgating, but it does not have any control over private groups. (The department does have a free brochure available to the public, though, which offers tips for safe tailgating.)
Bedard, who has been with Public Health since 2011, said this fall his department is overseeing the operations of three restaurant vendors (Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Ground Round and Deek’s Pizza) that are operating in the Alerus Center parking lot before UND home football games.
Another thing tailgaters should consider is a healthy eating plan.
“There’s no reason a tailgate picnic has to sideline your weight-loss efforts,” says Lynn Holum, clinical dietitian with Altru Health System. “With a little planning, you can stick to your healthy eating plan while cheering on your favorite team.”
Before you dish up, Holum recommends these tips to curb your calorie intake:
• Earn a little splurge for the weekend by skipping a few extra calories from your eating plan during the week and getting in regular exercise.
• Before the game, have a small snack that contains protein and fiber (like cereal and yogurt) so you’ll be less tempted to overeat.
• Take time and check out all the food choices before you load your plate then choose some of your favorites. Also be sure to select plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein.
• Eat from a plate rather than grazing from the buffet.
• Remember that alcohol calories can easily add up. One option is to alternate alcoholic drinks with zero-calorie beverages throughout the day.
And with all that said, here’s some final advice:
Go! eat! win! Go! eat! win!
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.