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:
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
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
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)
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.