Picnic Ideas: Healthy Recipes & Tips (cont.)

Instead, use dressings made with less oil and more vinegar or other added liquids such as fruit juices. Using salad dressings that contain acidic ingredients such as vinegar or citrus instead of mayonnaise not only cuts fat but helps keep foods safer at room temperature.

In starchy salads, substitute whole-grain pasta for white pasta and sweet potatoes for white potatoes. Or break free of tradition and try a brown rice salad or whole-wheat couscous salad. Combine cherry tomatoes with green beans and a little whole-grain pasta and add a little pesto for a tasty, nutritious salad that travels well.

Neville makes her favorite Mexican bean salad using a can of drained and rinsed black beans; a can of drained corn; a can of chopped Mexican-style tomatoes in lime juice; a chopped red pepper; a pinch of cumin; and a bit of cayenne.

Healthy Picnic Food Idea No. 5: Add Some Whole-Grain Goodness

Breads, rolls, and starchy salads can pile on lots of calories. So limit the starches in your picnic basket and wherever you can, make them whole grain for added nutritional value.

For a welcome change to the usual picnic fare, use whole-grain buns, pita bread, or wraps for your grilled meat, chicken, fish, or veggies.

Healthy Picnic Food Idea No. 6: Better Beverages

"It is so easy to get dehydrated, without even knowing it, when you are outdoors playing in the sun," says Neville.

Children are especially prone to losing fluids, and often don't want to interrupt their fun to drink. Neville suggests beating the heat with plenty of ice water, sparkling water, unsweetened iced tea, and an assortment of low-calorie beverages. You can freeze water bottles the night before and use as cold packs to keep food and drinks cold.

If alcohol is on the menu, select light beer and wine spritzers. Both are more refreshing in the midday heat and lower in calories.

Other options to satisfy thirst include:

  • Frozen fruit pops
  • Lemonade with a splash of cranberry juice
  • Fruit juices mixed half and half with water
  • Healthy Picnic Food Idea No. 7: Sweet Indulgences
  • Dessert is a must at a picnic, and who can resist summer delicacies like berries, cherries, and peaches? A colorful fruit platter or fruit salad is sure to satisfy even the most discerning sweet tooth. Most kids (adults, too) also love diving into big wedges of drippy watermelon.
  • If you must have cookies, brownies, or cupcakes, keep the portions small. If cake is on the menu, make it an angel food cake topped with fresh berries and a dollop of light whipped topping.

Two More Tips

Finally, to make the most of your summer picnic:

Be Safe. Make sure your picnic food arrives safely by tightly packing cold food into one cooler and drinks in a separate cooler. Keep both coolers in the shade.

Be Active. Enjoy the fresh air. Being outdoors is a great chance to include some exercise and burn some calories. Take a hike, toss a Frisbee or football, play baseball, canoe, or plan a fun game for the whole gang.


Healthy Picnic Food: Recipes

For your next picnic, Guttersen suggests the following recipes from her Sonoma Diet Cookbook:

Confetti Summer Salad

Prep: 30 minutes; chill: 4 to 24 hours.

4 medium ears fresh corn or 2 cups frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
4 baby zucchini, thinly sliced, or 1/2 of a small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup bottled clear Italian salad dressing (such as Newman's Own brand)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Fresh thyme (optional)

If using fresh corn, in a covered large saucepan cook ears of corn in a small amount of boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain; rinse with cold water to cool. When cool enough to handle, cut corn from cobs (you should have about 2 cups corn kernels).

In a large bowl, combine fresh cooked corn or thawed corn, zucchini, tomatoes, green onions, bell peppers, salad dressing, and, if desired, cayenne pepper. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally. If desired, garnish with fresh thyme.

Yield: 8 side-dish servings

Per serving: 99 calories, 5 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 253 mg sodium, 14 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 2 g protein

Antipasto Kabobs

The variety of textures, colors, and flavors in this recipe makes it the perfect prelude to virtually any entree. These no-cook kabobs can also be served as satisfying snacks.

Prep: 30 minutes; marinate: 1 to 24 hours.

1 1/2 to 2 cups assorted fresh vegetables (such as baby carrots, halved radishes, bell pepper squares, whole miniature bell peppers, or halved pattypan squash)
2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, or smoked Gouda cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ounces cooked smoked turkey sausage, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices and quartered
2 tablespoons refrigerated basil pesto
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
12 whole fresh basil leaves
Place vegetables, cheese, and sausage in a self-sealing plastic bag set in a deep bowl.
For marinade, in a small bowl stir together pesto and vinegar; pour over vegetable mixture. Seal bag; turn to coat vegetable mixture. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.
On 12 4-inch-long wooden skewers, alternately thread vegetables, cheese, sausage, and basil leaves.

Yield: 12 skewers (6 servings)

Per serving: 84 calories, 6 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 13 mg cholesterol, 188 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 5 g protein.

White Bean and Artichoke Dip

Artichokes are naturally fat free and are a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and folate. Enjoy their delicate flavor and nutritional benefits in this smooth, creamy dip.


STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!