Ways to Picnic the Healthy Way
Eating outside under the sun, with the crash of waves on the beach or the wind through the trees as your musical accompaniment, makes any meal taste better.
Try these easy-to-transport ideas for healthy alternatives to usual picnic fare:
Hummus stuffed into whole wheat pita bread with bean sprouts, diced tomatoes, and sliced grapes.
A green salad topped with grilled tofu. Pack the dressing separately.
Whole wheat wraps with tomato, avocado, hummus, spinach, and shredded carrots.
Cumin, black bean, and corn salad.
Rinse and drain a can of black beans and a can of sweet corn. Mix with a drizzle of olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of cumin.
Ricotta, spinach, and Parmesan whole wheat wrap.
Place 2 cups loosely packed raw spinach leaves in food processor and grind. Mix in 1/2 cup fat-free ricotta and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, and wrap in a whole wheat burrito.
Mediterranean tomato salad in whole wheat pita.
Dice fresh tomato and cucumber, mix with a thinly sliced red onion and black olives, drizzle with a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper and stuff into a pita pocket.
Stuff celery with nonfat cream cheese, peanut butter, or goat cheese for appetizers.
Baked corn chips with fat-free salsa or fat-free bean dip also work well as a meal opener.
Instead of mayonnaise-dripping coleslaw, prepare the dry ingredients before you go and drizzle on fat-free Italian dressing once you’re ready to eat.
Replace mayonnaise in summer salads with nonfat yogurt, sour cream, or a mustard vinaigrette.
Pack baby veggies for dipping.
Another good use for baby vegetables (tiny corn, squashes, cauliflower, etc.) is to pickle them the day before by soaking them in a jar of vinegar.
Instead of sweetened sodas or fruit juices, bring seltzer mixed with all-natural fruit juice; unsweetened, flavored iced tea; or bottles of water.
Freeze the bottled water the night before, to use as cold packs to keep food cold.
When you’re ready to eat, you’ll have an icy bottle of water ready to drink.
Go Mediterranean. Cook some whole wheat couscous then add fresh or roasted vegetables, a can of chickpeas, a sprinkling of feta cheese and sliced black olives, drizzle with olive oil.
Pack frozen mango cubes. They provide a sweet accompaniment to any picnic. Or mix several bags of frozen fruits in a container. By the time you’re ready to eat, you’ll have a sorbet-like treat.
Try a sweet potato salad. A great variation on the original that’s chock-full of valuable antioxidants and beta-carotene.
Peel and boil a few sweet potatoes, then let them cool.
Cut into chunks and toss with enough orange juice to cover, a pinch of cinnamon, and your favorite dried fruit. Serve cold.
Bring a whole watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew and slice it open on the spot. Nature’s packing works beautifully to keep fresh fruit cool and fresh.