Sunny weather is here again! And what’s more perfect for picnics? With picnics in mind, we thought we’d write some helpful hints on ways to keep picnics fun, simple, and healthy. Remember back to our “Building A Healthy Salad” article, we used the Plate Method as a starting point for building a great salad. Many of those same principles, plus the tips in this article, can be used to plan for The Perfect Picnic!
To review, the plate method encourages filling at least half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, a quarter of it with lean protein and the remainder with whole grains and fruits.
Stay Ahead of Dehydration with Water, Fruits and Vegetables
It’s always important to ensure adequate hydration, especially with any increase in physical activity. While packing our food for the day, we might accidentally forget to bring along a water bottle. Try to keep hydration in mind and work to stay ahead of your thirst. Fun water bottles can help make it easier to remember to bring enough liquid. Also, consider adding flavor enhancers to your water to add variety. Try to avoid added sugars or artificial sweeteners. For example, you might try water flavor enhancers such as: True Lemon, Liquid I.V., and Mio brands. Simple swaps like drinking unsweetened teas in place of water can also provide an extra nutrition punch of some antioxidants!
Additionally, we can get some hydration from our foods, not just beverages. Fruits and veggies are among the most hydrating foods. In particular, watermelon (the name gives it away), cantaloupe, strawberries, apples, grapes, oranges, pears, pineapple, lettuce, spinach, celery, and carrots all have very high water content.
Make Meals Easy to Pack and Transport
Consider fruits and veggies that don’t require too much refrigeration, such as cherry tomatoes, mini bell peppers, or baby carrots you can simply wash, dry, and pack. For fruit, try berries for finger foods, or diced melon on a stick for some fun kabob combinations. Consider Triscuits, or a similar alternative for an addition of healthy whole grains. Mozzarella cheese sticks are another option, especially as this is a low-sodium cheese and brings calcium that’ll help keep us moving with healthy bones in the summer sun. Tuna packets and hard-boiled eggs are quick, lean protein options.
Think Fiber and Protein for Quick Energy
Fiber is one nutrient we tend to lack in our diets in the United States. A downside to a low-fiber meal is that we may not feel hunger being satisfied, or we might not be satisfied for as long a time as if we had eaten enough fiber. This can send us looking for snacks and might bring a quicker end to our fun day in the sun. As mentioned above, Triscuits/whole grain crackers and fruits/veggies will provide fiber that will prevent hunger post-picnic. For another hunger-fighting tip, studies also show proteins help us keep hunger at bay. Pack a PB&J on whole wheat bread for a great meatless protein and fiber source! A fun portable option is a whole grain wrap with lean meat, such as rotisserie chicken, some dressing or avocado for heart-healthy fats, and lettuce to add more fiber and hydrating veggies.
Written by BWS Dietitian Ivana Petrovic RDN, LD
Continue Reading June 2023 Newsletter: Mind-Body Fitness