No doubt you are all enjoying the wonderful summer months at the moment and trying to capitalize on sunny days and longer evenings by spending as much time outside as you can. So for many of us that also means dusting off the patio table, firing up the grill or pulling out the picnic blanket and heading off for an open air feast.
Picnic season doesn’t have to just be sandwiches, processed chips and bagged snack items, nor does it have to mean hot dogs, burgers and mayonnaise soaked coleslaw all washed down with a can of soda! With a bit of planning and preparation, you can feast on summer favorites and still maintain a healthy lifestyle!
Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables
At this time of year fresh produce is in abundance, so take advantage, not only do they taste better, are easier to find but are also cheaper. It’s a prime time for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and stone fruits like peaches and nectarines. Vegetables, like asparagus, radish, chard, and spinach, are also top quality at this time of year. Get creative with your fruit and bring it along as a healthier alternative to the usual packaged cakes and cookies. There is nothing more refreshing than fresh, crisp salad ingredients, make your own healthy dressing with extra virgin oil, fresh herbs and lemon juice, bring it in a small container and add just before serving.
Grilling Before You Leave
If you have decided to go out on a picnic, grill or broil your meats ahead of time. Soak them in homemade marinades and take them in Tupperware containers ready to serve.
Add Whole Grain Goodness and Quinoa Versions
Change your white starches for wholegrain versions, such as wholegrain pasta, buns and artisan bread. Remember also quinoa is a far healthier version for some of your favorite pasta and rice dishes. Talking of rice, why not make a far healthier version with cauliflower rice. Take a little pot of extra virgin olive oil mixed with herbs and balsamic vinegar for a wonderful dip for your crusty wholegrain bread, delicious!
Often when we are enjoying outdoor activities we forget to stay hydrated, especially children. Don’t even take sugary sodas or high-calories juices so you are not even tempted to drown one or two when you realize how thirsty you are. Take plenty of water. Freeze water bottles the night before you head out so they stay cool longer the next day. Chop up some of your favorite fruits, add them to a pitcher of filtered water, and leave them in the refrigerator overnight to add to bottles in the morning. Cucumber and mint are so refreshing but for some fruity fun try strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, mangos with lemon and lime. If you must take alcoholic drinks choose lighter beers and wine spritzers, vodka with kombucha or sparkling water and lime might be less dehydrating.
Instead of feeling heavy and lethargic by your food choices at your picnic or bar-be-cue, making lighter and healthier choices will mean the outdoor fun can continue even after you have eaten!