Beach Eats with Heather McPherson - FOX 35 News Orlando

Beach Eats with Heather McPherson

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"WHAT'S COOKING" with Heather McPherson

Orlando Sentinel Food Editor and restaurant critic

BEACH EATS

Artichoke Salad: The beauty of this easy salad is that it marinates en route. Simply mix two (12-ounce) jars of marinated artichoke hearts (including the liquid from both of the jars) with four sliced plum tomatoes or two beefsteak tomatoes. Drain a 14.4-ounce can of hearts of palm, slice into rounds, and add to artichoke mixture. Add fresh garlic and chopped basil to taste. (Tip: Fresh basil works best in this salad.)

Lean Pita Pockets:  This is an easy, healthful option. Stuff whole-wheat pita pockets with shredded carrots, strips of red bell pepper, shredded lettuce, low-fat cheeses and lean cold cuts. Pack a bottle of ranch-style fat free dressing, hummus and guacamole in the cooler with the sandwiches and let hungry beachgoers dress their own sandwiches.  (Tip: Gather the ingredients from the supermarket salad bar to eliminate preparation work and kitchen clean up.)

Sunrise Sampler:  Don't forget breakfast on the beach for early risers. Fill a picnic basket with store-bought or homemade muffins and a mix of fresh fruit, such as washed apples, nectarines, plums and berries. In the cooler, stash individual serving cartons of fruit juices and fat-free yogurt.  A Thermos will keep coffee or hot tea warm. (Tip: Choosing fruits that can be eaten out of hand or as finger food means you don't have to pack forks and extra serving plates.)

Skewered Lunch:  This translates into lunch on a stick. No plate required - just a napkin. Thread boiled shrimp on 6-inch wood skewers alternating the seafood with chunks of fresh pineapple, papaya and sprigs of fresh mint. Add cooked cheese tortellini to the mix if desired. (Tip: Boil the shrimp with a flavorful seasoning mix such as Old Bay.)

Food safety

 If you're taking food to the beach, don't forget the basic rules of food safety.

Here are three key tips:

  1. When you're preparing warm foods that will later be placed in a cooler - fried chicken, for example - cook food hours ahead so it can cool before being packed in an ice chest. An ice chest cannot cool hot foods, and they may not get sufficiently cold to prevent spoilage.
  2. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees, so pack the cooler with lots of ice. Carry the cooler in the car's air-conditioned interior, not the trunk. At the beach, place the cooler under an umbrella or in the shade.
  3. Eat carry-out foods, such as fried chicken and barbecued beef or pork, within two hours. If you have leftovers, whether it's fried chicken, pasta salad or bologna sandwiches, put them in a cooler immediately. Toss out anything that has been left out of the cooler for more than an hour. Keep cold foods in the cooler - take them out only for serving.

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