Summer is officially here, and that means it’s picnic season. If picnicking is one of your favorite ways to spend a summer afternoon, then you know just how tricky it can be to put together a healthy meal on the go.
Give your go-to picnic menu a makeover with these simple replacements.
Pack hummus instead of mayo or ranch dip. Whether you’re packing sandwiches or veggies and dip (or both!), hummus is a healthy replacement for fatty spreads like mayo and sour cream-based ranch dip. Mayo can also grow bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
Sub broccoli slaw for coleslaw. Cool, creamy coleslaw is a summer favorite, but it’s not necessarily good for your waistline. Cut up broccoli into small pieces, throw in some shredded carrots and toss with a low-fat poppy seed or yogurt dressing for a similar crunchy salad with a fraction of the calories.
Mix veggies into your potato salad. Substitute colorful veggies for at least half the potatoes in your favorite potato salad recipe. Lighten things up a bit more by using plain Greek yogurt for the dressing instead of mayo.
Pack healthy appetizers. Rather than crackers and cheese or sugar-loaded apps, pack your cooler with a variety of raw veggies, like carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, radishes and cucumber. For your dip, pack hummus, salsa, fat-free bean dip or low-fat yogurt mixed with herbs and spices.
Swap sandwich wraps for burgers or fried chicken. Not only are they healthier, but sandwich wraps are also a lighter, cooler fare for a hot summer evening. Stuff them with lean meat, veggies and salsa or a light dressing.
Go healthy on grilled meats. If burgers are on the menu, make your patties with lean beef or ground turkey breast. For the kids, sub chicken or turkey dogs for hot dogs.
Add in some whole grains. Skip the starchy white breads and rolls and cut calories with whole-grain buns, bread or even pita bread for your burgers and sandwiches.
Skip the sugary drinks.When you’re outside in the summer, water is the most important thing you can drink. Shake up your water with sliced fresh fruit or by subbing sparkling water instead. Unsweetened iced tea is the healthier choice over sugar-loaded sodas. If wine is on the menu, pack light beer and wine spritzers for a more refreshing, low-calorie option.
Load up fresh fruits for dessert. It’s not a picnic without something sweet, but rather than baked goods like cookies or brownies, why not mix up a colorful fresh fruit salad full of bright berries, crunchy apples and sweet peaches?
No matter what food you pack, be sure all food is tightly packed in a cooler to keep it cold, and park your cooler in the shade to help keep food fresh. And don’t forget the bug spray and sunscreen!