We love getting outside during the summer months when it is sunny, warm and full of family fun!
Nothing goes better with the family fun than good food. But, we also want it to be healthy!
There are several foods that our traditional picnic basket holds that could use a Recipe Renovation™ to fit into our healthy eating plan and still bring on the summer fun.
Recipe Renovations™ for Picnics & Cookouts
Let’s talk about a few categories and then we’ll begin the Recipe Renovation!
Use lean protein choices. Many families’ grill burgers, hot dogs, and chicken. Each one of these family favorites have lower fat and calorie alternatives that can keep the picnic going while being healthier.
Try using the leanest cut of ground beef you can find, such as 95% lean, 5% fat. You might even mix the ground beef with ground turkey to extend the lean or try a veggie burger.
There are low fat hot dogs or turkey dogs that everyone might like. How about some vegetable kabobs too?
Salads are a great opportunity to round out the meal with other alternatives to the traditional mayonnaise laden versions. Try a garden salad, fruit salad or one of the Recipe Renovations we have made for you. My renovation of the traditional coleslaw is fresh, crunchy, refreshing on a hot day, keeps will compared to the mayonnaise laden version and will provide a serving of vegetables the whole family will love! You can add some of your favorite ingredients to please your guests such as jicama, water chestnuts, kimchi, snow peas, slivered almonds, or edamame.
Perhaps you have some fresh vegetables growing in your garden that would be a great fit!
Whole Wheat & Multi-Grain Rolls
Use whole wheat or multi-grain rolls for the burgers and dogs. The calories aren’t much different but the added fiber and whole grains are good for everyone in the family!
No Added Sugars
Leave the added sugars home! Drinking beverages that are refreshing without the added sugars is the healthy choice.
When everyone is hot, water is the best way to get hydration. Add some fresh sliced lemon, lime or orange to get a zing! Unsweetened beverages such as iced tea, seltzer, iced coffee and sugar free lemonade are great summer quenchers!
Snack Foods for Munching
Bags of potato chips and tortilla chips are easy to grab and go but are loaded with fat. Try some different kinds of munchies on your next picnic. How about kale chips, pita chips, apple chips, banana chips, multi-grain bread sticks, wheat crackers or baked chips to fuel the gang?
Pretzels are also a low fat choice and come in a variety of shapes.
Create New Favorites
Begin making new traditions at your next picnic by bringing along celery and carrot sticks with a dip of hummus, chopped fruit or watermelon slices instead of dessert and popcorn instead of s’mores.
Make frozen yogurt or smoothies in the ice cream freezer for a twist with fresh fruit it will sure to be a crowd pleaser.
|Traditional Picnic Food ||Calories/Fat per serving||Recipe Renovation||Calories/Fat per serving|
|Ground beef 70% lean/30% fat (3 oz) broiled||232 calories|
15 g fat
|Ground beef 95% lean/5% fat (3 oz)|
Veggie Burger (3 oz)
|145 calories |
6 g fat
2 g fat
|Hot dog (beef, pork) |
12 g fat
|Hot dog (beef, pork, turkey) |
Hot dog (turkey),
1 g fat
8 g fat
|Chicken, raw 3 oz|
|186 calories |
12 g fat
9 g fat
|Chicken, raw 3 oz|
2.5 g fat
|Traditional Macaroni Salad, |
17 g fat
|Not Grandma’s Macaroni Salad, |
7 g fat
|Traditional Coleslaw with mayonnaise, |
Low fat mayonnaise, ½ cup
|135 calories |
3 g fat
1 g fat
|Not Grandma’s Coleslaw, with vinegar,|
5 g fat
Mix it up once in a while instead of always serving the same high fat foods everyone expects.
They might surprise you and prefer the lower fat, healthier options that are just as refreshing on a hot day as what you traditionally bring along in your picnic basket!
Recipe Renovation™ — Not Grandma’s Coleslaw
Shredded red cabbage, ½ head
Shredded carrots, 3 medium
Red onion, 1 small, sliced thinly
Green pepper, 1 small, sliced thinly
Olive oil, 1/2 cup
Balsamic Vinegar, 3/4 cup
Sugar, 3 Tablespoons (you can use sugar substitute to reduce calories)
Garlic powder, 1 tsp.
Black pepper, ½ tsp.
Shred cabbages and carrots using food processor or hand shredder. Slice vegetables using mandolin or by hand (you can use pre-cut packages if desired, use 2 for this recipe).
Mix all vegetables together in large bowl.
Mix dressing ingredients in processor, with infusion blender or whisk by hand until well blended.
Combine dressing with vegetables. Mix together well.
Cover container and refrigerate for 4-8 hours. Can be made the day ahead.
Prior to serving, stir together to distribute dressing.
Makes approximately 12 (1/2 cup) servings.