It’s that time of the year again, when the sunny summer days bring friends and family together for picnics and cookouts. Whether it’s at the beach, park or your neighbor’s backyard it is always a good time. Traditional picnic foods like mayonnaise based salads and dips or brownies can pack on the calories fast. Making healthy choices can be difficult. I’m here to share easy guilt free tips that won’t affect your waist line and still allow you to enjoy a delicious picnic.
Lighten up the salads
Macaroni, pasta & potato salads are always a staple at picnics. Unfortunately, mayonnaise based creamy sauces can pack on calories quickly. 1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise has about 94 calories and 11 grams of fat including saturated fat. The good news is there are a lot of lighter options that ditch the mayonnaise. Try using vinaigrettes and fresh herbs to add flavor. Also, add some fiber with whole grain pasta and beans. Here are a few recipe links for ideas:
• Mediterranean pasta salad
• Potato salad with honey mustard vinaigrette
• Black Bean salad with roasted sweet potatoes
• Summer Macaroni salad with tomatoes and zucchini
Learn to love lean protein
Try to limit high fat or processed meats like burgers, hot dogs and sausage. Choose leaner protein like chicken, fish or a veggie and bean burger. This can cut out a lot of saturated fats and still get the protein. Protein is great for giving you energy and keeping you fuller for longer. Below are recipe links for creative ways to add lean protein that the party will love:
• Quinoa meatless meatballs
• Grilled salmon Burgers with avocado salsa
• Spicy chickpea veggies burgers
• Buffalo turkey burgers
• Hawaiian chicken skewers
Choose your sides wisely
Chips, dips and salads are going to be at your cookout. Try not to be tempted by these and limit your consumption. Instead opt for fresh fruits and vegetables. If you are still craving something salty choose nuts and seeds instead! You could always make your own protein filled healthy trail mix. If your craving something creamy, make a healthy veggie dip and swap out mayo and ranch for greek yogurt or avacado.
Here are a few easy recipes:
• Avocado greek yogurt ranch dip
• Cilantro cucumber dip
• Toasted coconut and dark chocolate trail mix
• No bake sweet and salty trail mix granola bars
A sweet treat
Don’t be afraid of packing a healthy fruit salad or stay cool by making your own fruit popsicles with less added sugar. This can be just as satisfying as a brownie or cookie with half the calories!
I listed a few delicious recipes links for every kind of sweet tooth:
• Summer berry watermelon fruit salad
• Firecracker fruit kabobs
• Cinnamon sugar grilled peaches
• Avocado brownies
• Coconut water and fresh berry popsicles
• Mango coconut creamsicles
It is important to stay hydrated during the hot summer days! Sometimes hunger can be mistaken for thirst. Avoid sugary packed sodas and juices that offer no nutritional benefits. Choose unsweetened iced tea or sparkling water if you enjoy the carbonation. Of course water is going to be the best choice. Try infusing water with fruit and herbs to add a little zest and flavor. Another added side benefit is infused water can look pretty sitting on your picnic table and a great conversation starter!
• Fruit infused water-6 ways
• Sparkling strawberry lemonade
• Raspberry peach iced tea lemonade
Always plan ahead! Making a healthy dish can be as easy if you have all the ingredients. If you don’t have time to make a dish you could always grab a pre-made veggie or fruit tray from the store. Also, mindful eating is important. Think about portion sizes and healthy choices ahead of time. Try to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Eating well does not have to be difficult!
Guest post from Nourish intern, Michelle Wright.