The sun’s out and the weather’s warm. Enjoy food in the great outdoors and make some memories for family and friends. Make picnics healthful and safe with these five tips.
- Go Green: Add some greens and other fruits and veggies to your picnic menu.
- Try packing fresh-cut vegetables with a low-fat dip or a tossed salad in a cooler filled with ice. Vegetables contain fiber to fill you while providing you with many more nutrients than chips or crackers.
- Make fruit kabobs. Check out the fun ideas on the back of the newsletter.
- Go Lean: Traditional picnic foods, including potato salad and cookies, tend to be higher in calories than some other options.
- To trim calories, choose extra-lean meat, turkey or chicken to fill your sandwich.
- For mixed salads and sandwich condiments, look for reduced-fat versions of your favorite mayonnaise, dressings or sauces.
- If you want to trim calories and add nutrition to your recipes, see “Recipe Makeovers” available from the NDSU Extension Service (ag.ndsu.edu/publications/landing-pages/food-and-nutrition/now-serving-recipe-makeovers-fn-1447).
- Go Whole: When picnicking, you might be tempted to turn to prepackaged, convenience foods. Choosing “whole” foods can save calories and provide more nutrients.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where you will find fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat milk and yogurts. Add some whole-grain foods to your menu, too.
- Go Safe: Remember to follow proper food safety practices when preparing for a picnic.
- Find out if your picnic destination has a source of safe drinking water. If not, bring water or moist towelettes for cleaning hands and surfaces.
- Be sure that raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent their juices from cross-contaminating other foods and beverage containers.
- Keep your food out of the temperature danger zone (40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit). Pack the cooler just before leaving home. Keep the cooler in an air-conditioned car and in the shade at the picnic site.
- Go Clean: Always clean your picnic spot and extinguish camp fires carefully.
Add some “greens” to your picnic menu with this tasty recipe. Be sure to pack it, along with all of your perishable foods, including cut fruits, meat and cheese, in a cooler with ice.
6 c. broccoli (chopped)
1 c. raisins (or substitute red grapes, halved)
1 red onion (medium, peeled and diced)
2 Tbsp. sugar
8 bacon slices (cooked and crumbled, optional)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. mayonnaise, low-fat
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well. Chill for one to two hours. Serve.
Makes eight servings. Without bacon, each serving has 150 calories, 5 grams (g) fat, 3 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 142 milligrams of sodium.
(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)