Insights & Actions for Healthy Living
Recipe Renovation™ for a Favorite Summertime Salad (and Other Picnic Food)

Recipe Renovation™ for a Favorite Summertime Salad (and Other Picnic Food)

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!

Grilling meat

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 RenovationCalories/Fat per serving  
Ground beef 70% lean/30% fat (3 oz) broiled232 calories
15 g fat
Ground beef 95% lean/5% fat (3 oz)

Veggie Burger (3 oz)
145 calories
6 g fat

150 calories
2 g fat

Hot dog (beef, pork)
1 dog
137 calories
12 g fat
Hot dog (beef, pork, turkey)
fat free,
1 dog

Hot dog (turkey),
1 dog
62 calories
1 g fat

100 calories
8 g fat
Chicken, raw 3 oz

186 calories
12 g fat

156 calories
9 g fat
Chicken, raw 3 oz
Skinless breast
93 calories
2.5 g fat
Traditional Macaroni Salad,
½ cup
287 calories
17 g fat
Not Grandma’s Macaroni Salad,
½ cup
195 calories
7 g fat
Traditional Coleslaw with mayonnaise,
½ cup

Low fat mayonnaise, ½ cup
135 calories
3 g fat

66 calories
1 g fat
Not Grandma’s Coleslaw, with vinegar,
½ cup
50 calories
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


coleslaw fixinsShredded green cabbage, 1 head

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.


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