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How to host a healthy picnic

Posted by: Jacqui Zimmerman, RD on 7/2/2013 3:40:40 PM

It’s picnic season! While you don’t have much control over what’s served when you go to someone else’s house, you can help your own guests stick with their healthy eating goals when you host a party. Learn some ways to host a healthy summer picnic.

For most people, maintaining a healthy weight is a year-round struggle. Getting through the holidays and cold winter months are certainly challenging, but spring and summer can bring on a whole new set of roadblocks.
The warmer months bring plenty of fresh foods and opportunities for exercise, but they also can mean more gatherings where less healthy options are available. Here are some ways to host a healthy summer picnic:
·         “Clean eating” and “whole foods” are buzz words in the healthy-eating world. This just means choosing foods that are simple and minimally processed instead of out of a box and loaded with preservatives. Swap your typical mayo-based salads for fresh green salads topped with berries and a simple homemade dressing. Instead of pasta salad, whip up a salad made with cooked quinoa. For a Mediterranean twist, mix chopped spinach, peppers, red onion, black olives, feta cheese crumbles, and a simple oil-and-vinegar dressing with your cooked quinoa.
·         Who says hot dogs and pre-made hamburger patties have to be the mainstays of picnics?  For an inexpensive option, pick up some skinless chicken tenders and thread onto skewers and grill for chicken satay. Have a little more to spend? Try a flank steak: Marinate, grill, and then slice it thin over a fresh green salad.
·         Go meatless! Even if you aren’t a vegetarian, serving vegetarian main-dish items is a great way to save calories and cash. There are tons of really great black bean or veggie burger recipes. Or, simply brush large portabella mushroom caps with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill. They make a great substitute for burgers since they have a hearty texture.
Here are some great recipe links.  Enjoy!
·         Quinoa veggie burgers
·         Homemade black bean burgers
·         Healthy quinoa salad recipes
·         LightenUpLancaster: Keep checking the site for new recipes!

Jacqui Zimmerman, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian at Lancaster General Health’s Wellness Center. She has been instrumental in the development of a series of three healthy cookbooks, a variety of cooking demonstrations, healthy shopping tours, and numerous presentations for a range of audiences. She is actively involved in the Education and Schools Action Team of the Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition. Her experience includes working with people of all ages, from kids and teens to the elderly.

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