Summer Pro-Tips


Healthy Summer Grilling

When temperatures reach triple digits, it’s time to plan meals that don’t involve heating up the kitchen.
Grilling outdoors can be a great way to eat healthy, says Taylor Tran, registered dietitian and employee health program manager at UT Dallas. Here are some of her tips for nutritious, flavorful grilling:

    • The higher the level of fat in charcoal-broiled meats, the more carcinogens are produced. Choose meats that are low in fat, and cook until done but not charred.

    • Trim excess fat from meat to lower the fat content and reduce the chance of grill flare-ups.

    • Lightly coat grill racks with vegetable spray so that boneless chicken breasts, meats and vegetables can be successfully grilled without any added fat.

    • Don’t overcook lean meats, poultry and seafood because low-fat proteins dry out quickly. Wrap fish in heavy foil to prevent it from falling apart on the grill.

    • Marinades can tenderize lean cuts of meat and add flavor. Baste with the marinade during cooking to give food extra moisture and flavor.

“In addition to using lean meats, try fresh herbs and spices, and reduced-sodium broths, soy sauces and condiments, for great flavor without an overdose of salt,” Tran said.


Sustainable Irrigation

As temperatures begin to heat up, Texas homeowners should be thinking about more cost-effective ways to care for their lawns.
Area homeowners typically use up to 70 percent of their water outdoors, and about half of that water is wasted due to inefficient irrigation, says Gary Cocke, the University’s associate director for energy conservation and sustainability.
He points out that the thick clay soils in North Texas can hold a great amount of water, but they absorb water very slowly.
“Longer run times for your sprinklers will only create more water running down the street. Instead, use shorter run times with multiple cycles so that the water has time to soak into the soil in between start times. Getting the water deep into the soil encourages deep root growth and healthy plants,” Cocke said.
“Ideally, we should run our sprinklers as little as possible, and when we do, we need to make sure that our system is running efficiently.”
Besides following your city’s watering schedule, here are some irrigation suggestions:

    • Use a smart irrigation controller to supplement rainfall based on plants’ needs.

    • Check the back-up batteries in your controller. If there is a power outage, your system could default to watering every day and you’ll end up with a violation.

    • Online sources such as Texas SmartScape have watering guides with tips on helping plants develop deep roots and need less watering.

    • Take advantage of your city’s resources. The city of Plano has an online guide to sprinkler repair that can help you identify and fix irrigation problems.


Family Meal Planning

Summer months brings more flexible schedules, fun outings and family vacations. With all the excitement, there may be a lapse in structure, which can be detrimental to children’s eating habits.
“Maintaining a structured routine for eating is important, but even when schedules get crazy there are still opportunities to make sure your kids get healthy, balanced meals,” said Jenny McGlothlin, a speech-language pathologist at UT Dallas’ Callier Center for Communication Disorders.

    • At home, keep to a schedule with eating opportunities every two to three hours for children 4 and younger and every three to four hours for kids 5 and older. Don’t allow grazing in between meals and snacks, as this can lead to poor eating at meals and worse overall intake. Create your own summer plan that allows for later wake-up times and leisurely meals, but offer meals and snacks regularly rather than allowing children to eat whenever they want.

    • On vacations or outings, use the opportunity to try different types of food. Restaurants with buffets allow children to choose from a wide variety and explore at whatever level they are comfortable — looking at it, touching it or tasting a little.

    • Have a plan for eating while on the road and bring a cooler with snacks for long trips.

    • Head to orchards or farms where families can pick their own produce and children can sample new foods. Novel experiences where the child feels in control of the situation allow them to be curious and explore new foods that they may ignore at home.

McGlothlin has co-written two books about picky eating, one focused on young children, Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating, and the other focused on teens and adults, Conquer Picky Eating for Teens and Adults.