Pick Healthy Picnic Foods

Make your picnic a healthy one!  With warm weather here, many of us are planning those special outdoor meals with family and friends.  If you are having a barbecue in the backyard, a picnic on the beach, or going on a camping trip, it is easy to serve foods that are healthy and full of flavor.
Consider these tips when packing your picnic basket:

Choose low fat main dishes:  Lean meats such as baked chicken (not fried), skinless chicken breasts and pork tenderloin are good choices.  When making burgers, use lean ground beef or turkey.  Aim for meat that is 93% or higher lean ground beef or turkey.  Veggies burgers are also very tasty for picnics.  Sandwich wraps can be a change from the normal sandwich.  Make them with lean meats, low fat cheese and filled with lots of veggies.  They are easy to pack and travel well.

Enjoy in season fruits and veggies:  Include crunchy raw veggies like carrots, broccoli, celery, and cherry tomatoes for your meals and snacks.  Don't forget a dip.  Try salsa, hummus or low fat yogurt made with herbs and spices.  Apples, pears, berries, peaches, and watermelon can be used whole, sliced or cubed for easy snacking and desserts.  These low calorie treats are high in vitamins and minerals.  They are easy to prepare ahead of time and keep cold.

A variety of seasonal fruits and veggies are available at the local Farmers' Market at affordable prices.  Visit your local market with your family.  Try some old favorites as well as something new.

Switch to whole grains: Whole grain buns, pita bread, and wraps can add a welcome taste to grilled chicken, beef, fish, and veggies.  Look for whole grains by reading the ingredient label on the package.  Try using other whole grains in your dishes like whole grain pasta, brown rice or couscous.  Add whole grain bread to your picnic and enjoy its many health benefits.

Pasta salads are common picnic treats!  To make them even healthier, toss your favorite chopped vegetables with whole grain pasta and a light oil and vinegar salad dressing.  Switching from a mayonnaise base dressing to oil and vinegar will also save calories.  Grilled veggies are also a yummy addition.  Try corn on the cob, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and onions.

Beverages: Getting thirsty can happen easily when you are outside having fun on a warm day.  Pack plenty of cold drinks to keep everyone comfortable.  Healthy choices are ice water, unsweetened iced tea, and 100% fruits juices mixed half and half with water.  Frozen fruit pops made with 100% juice can also be a refreshing treat for children.

Try these healthy options when planning your picnic this summer!



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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The University of Maryland Extension will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more about Maryland’s Food Supplement Program (SNAP), contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources at 1-800-332-6347 or apply online at https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/.
© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall