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Nutrition

Elevate your grilling

Step outside your comfort zone and create some “wow-worthy” dishes with big flavors with these recipes.

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Weekend barbecues, birthday celebrations and family reunions are in full swing, so up your grill game from basic to bold with a few ideas to leave your guests wanting more.

Step outside your comfort zone and create some “wow-worthy” dishes with big flavors with these recipes.

Get started with these ideas:

  • Once ribs are grilled until tender, use a sharp knife to carefully slit skin on the back of each rib for easier bone removal.
  • Make a giant cheese-stuffed burger by lining a 9-inch round cake pan with foil. Add in half of the ground beef followed by a cheese layer. Top with remaining ground beef and shake on seasoning for maximum flavor.
  • Brine pork chops in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours before grilling to infuse with flavor and help make tender and juicy. Top with caramelized apples cooked in a cast-iron skillet.

Smokehouse Maple-Brined Pork Chops

Servings: 4

1/3 

cup sea salt

1/4

cup, plus 2 tablespoons and pinch, McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning

1/2

cup packed light brown sugar, divided

8

cups water, divided

4

bone-in center-cut pork chops (3/4-inch thick, about 2 1/2-2 3/4 pounds total)

vegetable oil

1

lemon, cut in half

3

tablespoons unsalted butter

2

Granny Smith apples, each peeled, cored and cut into six wedges

1

tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives (optional)

In medium saucepan, whisk salt, 1/4 cup seasoning, 1/4 cup sugar and 4 cups water. Bring to simmer, whisking constantly, until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour in remaining water and mix thoroughly. Transfer brine to large container with lid and cool to room temperature. Add pork chops to brine. Cover and refrigerate 8-10 hours.

Heat grill to medium-high heat.

Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Brush lightly with oil. Season both sides of pork with 2 tablespoons seasoning.

Grill until bottom side of pork chops are well marked and charred, 7-9 minutes. Flip and grill 4-6 minutes, or until cooked through and internal temperature registers 145 F. Let rest under tented foil.

Place large cast-iron skillet on grill. Juice one lemon half into small bowl. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice and remaining sugar to skillet and stir with heatproof spatula until mixture resembles wet sand. Cook with grill open, stirring frequently, until sugar melts and deepens to amber, about 8 minutes. Add butter and stir until melted. Once foam subsides, add apples. Close grill and cook, stirring gently to coat apples in caramel, until apples are tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and add remaining lemon juice and pinch of seasoning; stir gently.

Arrange pork chops on platter and top with apples. Zest remaining lemon half over dish. Sprinkle with chives, if desired.

Best-Ever Buffalo Rack O’ Ribs Sandwich

Servings: 4

Slaw:

1/4 

cup mayonnaise

1

tablespoon lemon juice

1/2

teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, plus additional, to taste

1/8

teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, plus additional, to taste

2

cups shredded green cabbage

1/2

cup shredded carrot

1/4

cup diced celery, chopped

2

tablespoons fresh celery leaves

2

tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Ribs:

1

rack (about 2 pounds) baby back ribs

3

tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1

tablespoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

4

tablespoons hot sauce, divided, plus additional for spreading and serving (optional)

Sandwich:

1

soft French loaf (12-14 inches), split

olive oil

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

McCormick coarsely ground black pepper

1/4

small red onion, thinly sliced

1/4

cup crumbled blue cheese

To make slaw: In medium bowl, whisk mayonnaise, lemon juice, seasoned salt and pepper. Add cabbage, carrot, celery, celery leaves and parsley; toss to combine. Sprinkle with additional seasoned salt and pepper, to taste.

To make ribs: Prepare grill for indirect medium heat at about 350 F.

Insert butter knife between membrane and bone on backside of ribs. Grab membrane with paper towel then pull to remove membrane; discard. Rub ribs on both sides with brown sugar and seasoned salt. Wrap ribs tightly in aluminum foil and place on indirect-heat side of grill. Grill ribs, turning once until meat is tender and pulling away from bone but not totally falling apart, about 1 hour, 15 minutes-1 hour, 30 minutes. Remove ribs from grill.

Unwrap ribs and let cool until cool enough to handle. Using sharp knife, carefully slit skin on back of ribs and remove bones, keeping slab in one piece.

Place boneless rib slab on direct-heat side of grill, rounded-side up, and brush top with 2 tablespoons hot sauce. Grill until underside begins to crisp, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip ribs and brush top with the remaining hot sauce. Continue to grill ribs until glossy and caramelized, about 2-3 minutes.

To assemble sandwich: Scoop out most of soft insides of top of French bread to make room for toppings. Brush cut sides with oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt and pepper. Grill on direct-heat side of grill until bread is toasted and grill marks appear, about 3 minutes.

Place ribs on bottom of loaf. Brush with additional hot sauce, if desired, and top with slaw, onions and blue cheese. Cover with top of loaf. Cut into four pieces.

Giant Bacon-Cheddar Juicy Lucy Burger

Servings: 8

2

tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning, divided

2

pounds 80 percent lean ground beef

8

ounces sliced medium or sharp white cheddar cheese

1/4

cup mayonnaise

1/4

cup yellow mustard

8

long pickle slices, plus 2 tablespoons brine

1

round loaf soft bread (10 inches), cut in half horizontally

olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1

large heirloom tomato, thinly sliced

1

small red onion, thinly sliced

8

slices bacon, cooked

2

cups shredded iceberg lettuce

Line 9-inch round cake pan with aluminum foil, leaving extra foil over edges of pan. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons steak seasoning. Press half of ground beef into cake pan. Layer cheese in middle, leaving 1/2-1-inch border around sides. Sprinkle with additional 2 teaspoons seasoning. Top with remaining ground beef in even layer and press to seal in cheese. Sprinkle with remaining seasoning.

Lift burger from cake pan using foil. Press to flatten to about 11 inches in diameter. Refrigerate until ready to cook. (Patty can be assembled up to 2 hours in advance.)

In small bowl, whisk mayonnaise, mustard and pickle brine until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.

Remove most of soft insides from top of bread to make hollow. Reserve insides.

Prepare grill for indirect medium heat at about 350 F.

Brush grill grates with oil. Hold burger on foil bottom and flip onto indirect-heat side of grill; peel off foil. Cook until sides of burger are cooked and it feels firm when lifted with spatula, about 8-10 minutes. Using two spatulas, carefully flip burger. Close grill and cook until burger is cooked through and cheese is melted, about 5-8 minutes longer. Move to direct-heat side of grill for 1-2 minutes per side for more char.

Brush cut sides of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on direct-heat side of grill until bread is toasted and grill marks appear, about 3 minutes.

Place bottom half of bread on large cutting board. Spread with half of mustard sauce. Place burger on top and top with tomatoes, onions, pickles and bacon. Spread top of bread with remaining mustard sauce and fill with lettuce. Place top of bun on burger and cut into eight wedges.

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Nutrition

Body clock off-schedule? Prebiotics may help

Dietary compounds shown to protect against jet lag-type symptoms.

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Photo by Daily Nouri from Unsplash.com

Whether it’s from jetting across time zones, pulling all-nighters at school or working the overnight shift, chronically disrupting our circadian rhythm—or internal biological clocks—can take a measurable toll on everything from sleep, mood and metabolism to risk of certain diseases, mounting research shows.

But a new University of Colorado Boulder study funded by the U.S. Navy suggests simple dietary compounds known as prebiotics, which serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria, could play an important role in helping us bounce back faster.

“This work suggests that by promoting and stabilizing the good bacteria in the gut and the metabolites they release, we may be able to make our bodies more resilient to circadian disruption,” said senior author Monika Fleshner, a professor of integrative physiology.

The animal study, published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, is the latest to suggest that prebiotics—not to be confused with probiotics found in fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut—can influence not only the gut, but also the brain and behavior.

Naturally abundant in many fibrous foods—including leeks, artichokes and onions—and in breast milk, these indigestible carbohydrates pass through the small intestine and linger in the gut, serving as nourishment for the trillions of bacteria residing there.

The authors’ previous studies showed that rats raised on prebiotic-infused chow slept better and were more resilient to some of the physical effects of acute stress.

For the new study, part of a multi-university project funded by the Office of Naval Research, the researchers sought to learn if prebiotics could also promote resilience to body-clock disruptions from things like jet lag, irregular work schedules or lack of natural daytime light—a reality many military personnel live with.

“They are traveling all over the world and frequently changing time zones. For submariners, who can be underwater for months, circadian disruption can be a real challenge,” said lead author Robert Thompson, a postdoctoral researcher in the Fleshner lab. “The goal of this project is to find ways to mitigate those effects.”

How a healthy gut may prevent jet lag

The researchers raised rats either on regular food or chow enriched with two prebiotics: galactooligosaccharides and polydextrose.

They then manipulated the rats’ light-dark cycle weekly for eight weeks—the equivalent of traveling to a time zone 12 hours ahead every week for two months.

Rats that ate prebiotics more quickly realigned their sleep-wake cycles and core body temperature (which can also be thrown off when internal clocks are off) and resisted the alterations in gut flora that often come with stress.

“This is one of the first studies to connect consuming prebiotics to specific bacterial changes that not only affect sleep but also the body’s response to circadian rhythm disruption,” said Thompson.

The study also takes a critical step forward in answering the question: How can simply ingesting a starch impact how we sleep and feel?

The researchers found that those on the prebiotic diet hosted an abundance of several health-promoting microbes, including Ruminiclostridium 5 (shown in other studies to reduce fragmented sleep) and Parabacteroides distasonis.

They also had a substantially different “metabolome,” the collection of metabolic byproducts churned out by bacteria in the gut.

Put simply: The animals that ingested the prebiotics hosted more good bacteria, which in turn produced metabolites that protected them from something akin to jet lag.

Are supplements worthwhile?

Clinical trials are now underway at CU Boulder to determine if prebiotics could have similar effects on humans.

The research could lead to customized prebiotic mixtures designed for individuals whose careers or lifestyles expose them to frequent circadian disruption.

In the meantime, could simply loading up on legumes and other foods naturally rich in the compounds help keep your body clock running on time? It’s not impossible but unlikely, they say—noting that the rats were fed what, in human terms, would be excessive amounts of prebiotics.

Why not just ingest the beneficial bacteria directly, via probiotic-rich foods like yogurt?

That could also help, but prebiotics may have an advantage over probiotics in that they support the friendly bacteria one already has, rather than introducing a new species that may or may not take hold.

What about prebiotic dietary supplements?

“If you are happy and healthy and in balance, you do not need to go ingest a bunch of stuff with a prebiotic in it,” said Fleshner. “But if you know you are going to come into a challenge, you could take a look at some of the prebiotics that are available. Just realize that they are not customized yet, so it might work for you but it won’t work for your neighbor.”

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Nutrition

The best teas to drink for health

Study after study shows the benefits of drinking tea, essentially verifying what your ancestors believed back in ancient times. The humble tea plant – a shrub known as Camellia sinensis – has long supplied an answer to some ailments.

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Photo by Loverna Journey from Unsplash.com

While studies have shown the health benefits of drinking tea, the variety of options can be overwhelming. A dietitian from a top American hospital, Cleveland Clinic, explains how different teas offer different benefits.

Beth Czerwony, MS, RD, CSOWM, LD, from Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition with the Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute, says: “Study after study shows the benefits of drinking tea, essentially verifying what your ancestors believed back in ancient times. The humble tea plant – a shrub known as Camellia sinensis – has long supplied an answer to some ailments.”

Here, she discusses which popular teas are advised for common ailments.

Best for Overall Health: Green Tea

“Green tea is the champion when it comes to offering health benefits,” says Czerwony. “It’s the Swiss Army knife of teas. It covers a lot of territory.”

A medical literature review offers a snapshot of those benefits, she adds, linking the consumption of green tea to:

  • cancer prevention;
  • fighting heart disease;
  • lower blood pressure;
  • anti-inflammatory treatment;
  • weight loss; and
  • lower cholesterol.

According to Czerwony, the healing power of green tea is linked to catechin, an antioxidant compound found in tea leaves. It helps protect cells from damage caused by out-of-hand free radicals reacting with other molecules in the body.

Best for Gut Health: Ginger Tea

Studies show that ginger naturally combats nausea, making it a go-to remedy for dealing with morning sickness during pregnancy, notes Czerwony.

Ginger also offers proven digestive benefits by helping the body move food from the stomach to continue its digestive tract journey. Speeding up that process works to calm indigestion and ease stomach distress, she explains.

“Ginger relaxes your gut, which can make you a lot more comfortable if you’re having tummy trouble,” Czerwony says.

Alternatively, peppermint tea can also serve as an aid against indigestion. “Peppermint, however, is best for issues lower in your gut. It can actually aggravate higher-up issues such as acid reflux,” she advises.

Best for Lung Health: Herbal Tea

The anti-inflammatory powers in herbal teas can help loosen airways tightened by conditions such as asthma, says Czerwony. She recommends herbal teas featuring turmeric, cinnamon or ginger as a way to keep the air flowing.

As an added benefit, drinking a hot cup of herbal tea can also help clear congestion by loosening mucus, says Czerwony.

Best for Sickness: Peppermint Tea

“Menthol packs quite the punch when it comes to fighting a cold – and peppermint tea is packed with menthol,” says Czerwony, “It really kicks up your immune system.”

She says peppermint tea works well to relax sore throat muscles, relieve nasal congestion and even reduce a fever. “It’s also loaded with antibacterial and antiviral properties to give you a healthy boost.”

She also suggests trying echinacea, hibiscus or elderberry tea when someone does not feel well.

Best at Bedtime: Chamomile Tea

The daisy-like chamomile plant contains apigenin, an antioxidant compound and snooze inducer, explains Czerwony. She says apigenin attaches itself to receptors in the brain and works to reduce anxiety, building a peaceful calm that leads to drowsiness.

Valerian root tea also is a good option, she says.

What about black teas?

Black tea offers many of the same benefits as green tea, which makes sense when you consider they’re made from the same plant leaves, says Czerwony.

So why are they different? “Leaves used to make black tea are allowed to age and oxidize, turning them brown or black. Green tea leaves are processed earlier when they’re still green. Hence, the name. Black tea generally has more caffeine than green tea— a key selection factor if you’re concerned about limiting your caffeine intake,” she says.

“There are so many teas to choose from,” concludes Czerwony. “Try different varieties and see what works best for you.”

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Nutrition

How to enjoy whiskey this summer

Select “young” whiskey. If adding ice cubes to give it a chill, you don’t want to dilute aged whiskies. You alternatively can chill whiskey in the refrigerator before drinking.

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Photo by Vinicius "amnx" Amano from Unsplash.com

Over the years, whiskey has become increasingly popular and is a beverage people typically drink year-round. Shots Box, an alcohol subscription service offering curated, craft, artisanal, and small-batch spirits, is here with some tips on how to best enjoy whiskey during the summer months.

  1. Select “young” whiskey. If adding ice cubes to give it a chill, you don’t want to dilute aged whiskies. You alternatively can chill whiskey in the refrigerator before drinking.
  2. Choose a lighter variety. When picking a whiskey to enjoy in the summer, single grain Scotch or Irish whiskey are usually lighter malts and bourbons, making them easier to enjoy in the warm weather.
  3. Pick an option that’s lighter, sweeter, and with a natural hint of citrus.
  4. Balance or adjust the flavor by mixing with stone fruits, summer vegetables, or pair with tea.

“As whiskey continues to grow in popularity, there is no better time than the summer to enjoy it,” said J.C. Stock, Chief Executive Officer of Shots Box.

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