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Article updated: 5/23/2012 6:23 AM

Get creative with potato salad this summer

Change up store-bought potato salad with your favorite stir-ins.

Change up store-bought potato salad with your favorite stir-ins.

 

Courtesy of GFS

Guy Fieri

Guy Fieri

 

Associated Press

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Potato salad is a summertime staple. Whether you're at a backyard barbecue, family picnic or block party, there's bound to be a bowl of potato salad on the table.

Even if you don't have time to mix up a batch of homemade potato salad, you can still bring a creative salad to the party by starting with a 10-pound container of American Potato Salad from GFS and doctoring it up with a few extras. Here are some suggestions that will feed 40-plus people, courtesy of the folks at GFS.

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Buffalo Potato Salad: 2 cups chopped celery, 1 cup sliced chili peppers and 2 cups crumbled blue cheese.

Island Breeze Potato Salad: 2 cups chopped fresh pineapple (drained), 2 cups roughly chopped cashews, zest of 3 lemons.

Orchard Potato Salad: 4 medium apples (cored and diced), 3 cups diced ham, 2 cups grated smoked Gouda cheese.

Worried about the mayonnaise-based salad in the heat? Fill a large bowl with ice and place the bowl of potato salad within that bowl to keep cool.

Grilling advice: You might think that by grilling fish or chicken rather than a steak, you're making a health-conscious choice, yet there are still some health concerns whenever you grill foods.

Experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research note that when any kind of meat, poultry or fish is cooked at high temperatures, especially when well-done or charred, cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form. These substances can theoretically damage DNA in ways that make cancer more likely.

"The good news is that there are four simple strategies you can use to make allowances, manage risks and grill more safely," said Alice Bender, dietitian with the cancer research group.

Marinades, specifically, can protect meat and ultimately you. Whatever meat you choose, soak it in a marinade of your favorite herbs along with vinegar or lemon juice. Keep the meat marinating in the fridge while you prepare the sides.

Marinating meat has been shown to reduce the formation of HCAs. Precisely why marinades are protective is still under investigation; some evidence points to the acids (vinegar and citrus) or antioxidant content. Even just 30 minutes in the marinade can help, Bender adds.

If you partially cook meat in the microwave, oven or on the stove, you can reduce the amount of time the meat sits on the grill exposed to high heat.

To reduce the amount of HCAs and PAHs that end up in, and on, the meat, slow down the cooking time with a low flame and keep burning and charring to a minimum. Bender suggests cutting off any visible fat (to reduce flare-ups), cooking food in the center of the grill and moving coals to the side (to prevent fat and juices from dripping on them) and cutting off any charred portions of the meat before serving it.

We're chillin': The Food Network's Guy Fieri leads a lineup of celebrity chefs who will demonstrate recipes during Better Homes and Gardens and Weber's Second Annual Chill and Grill Festival in Chicago June 9 and 10.

The festival will take over Chicago's Waveland Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday with tastings from local restaurants (Chicago Cut Steakhouse, GT Fish & Oyster, Hot Chocolate and Mercat a la Planxa among them), demonstrations and hands-on grilling classes and live music.

Admission is free; however, tastings and Weber classes will require ticket purchase. Food and beverage Tasting Cards are sold as a punch card; 12 "punches" per card can be purchased online for $12 or at the festival for $15. Weber Class Tickets can be purchased online now for $25 or at the festival for $30.

Chill and Grill will provide free shuttle service from area bus and el stops to the festival and back. For directions, shuttle timetables and a full schedule of events, visit bhgchillandgrill.com.

Contact Food Editor Deborah Pankey at food@dailyherald.com or (847) 427-4524. Be her friend on Facebook.com/DebPankey.DailyHerald or follow her on Twietter @PankeysPlate.

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