When you’re packing a basket to dine al fresco, don’t forget these healthy summer picnic foods.
Packing a picnic basket full of delicious food and heading to your favorite outdoor spot to dine surrounded by the beauty of nature is a wonderful perk of the season. There’s nothing like enjoying your favorite summer picnic foods along with some fresh air, bright sunshine and the sounds of birds chirping.
But if your vision of summer picnic fare includes classic foods like fried chicken and mayo-based salads, it may be time to lighten things up. It’s easier than you think to pack a delicious and nutritious picnic! And by doing so, you’ll be doing your body good in more ways than one.
Here is some better-for-you summer picnic fare, along with a few healthy picnic recipes you’ll want to bring along on your next al fresco dining adventure.
Healthy Picnic Foods and Recipes
Make-Your-Own Sandwiches: Feeding a group at your summer picnic? Everyone will love making their own sandwiches and it’s an easy way to please even the pickiest of eaters. Bring an assortment of breads, fillings, spreads and extras and you’ll keep everyone well-fed.
Here are some healthy sandwich options:
- Breads: 100% whole-grain breads, including tortillas, pita pockets, sliced bread, rolls
- Fillings: lower-sodium deli meat, canned tuna, grilled chicken, chickpeas, low-fat cheese
- Spreads: hummus, pesto, guacamole, olive-oil mayo, gourmet mustard
- Extras: leafy greens, sliced tomatoes, shredded carrots, bell pepper rings, sliced avocado, pickles
Healthy Picnic Recipes: Prefer to make sandwiches at home so they’re ready to eat? You can’t go wrong with these:
Jar Salads: Jar salads offer a portable and attractive way to serve healthy picnic fare in an easy to eat container. In a large jar, place your dressing of choice at the bottom. Then top with veggies, your favorite protein (meat, poultry, fish, beans) and any extras, such as cooked grains, shredded cheese, fruit, nuts or seeds. Fill the rest of the jar with leafy greens (leave some room for shaking things up if you plan to eat the salad right from the jar). When it’s time to eat, either shake to mix and eat out of the jar or pour the salad into a large bowl, toss it up and dig in.
Healthy Picnic Recipes: Whether you pack these salads in a jar or serve them in a bowl, they’re as pretty as they are healthy:
Fun Fruit: Looking for a healthy sweet treat to round out your summer picnic? Alternate seasonal fruits on wooden skewers, such as berries, watermelon, grapes, kiwi, pineapple and cantaloupe. Serve with lower-sugar vanilla Greek yogurt for dipping. Picnic goers of all ages are more likely to get in their daily allotment of fruit if it’s served on a stick. Another fun way to eat fruit is to cut fruits like watermelon into shapes or mix up a colorful fruit salad.
Healthy Picnic Recipes: Round out your meal with a sweet treat that’s sure to bring smiles to everyone’s faces:
Flavored Water: Instead of consuming loads of added sugar by drinking sweet tea, lemonade or soft-drinks, hydrate picnic goers with tasty flavored water instead. There are many flavored waters and seltzers sold in bottles these days, but the healthiest (and freshest) option is to make it yourself. In a pitcher or thermos, combine fresh still or sparkling water with muddled herbs, fresh fruit or vegetables. It’s not only delicious, but it looks inviting!
Here are few flavor combinations to try:
- Blueberries + Lemon + Mint
- Watermelon + Strawberries + Basil
- Cucumber + Lemon + Rosemary
Healthy Picnic Recipes: Want something a bit more indulgent than flavored water? Keep everyone hydrated with a thermos filled with these tasty concoctions:
Pack these healthy foods the next time you head out for a summer picnic—or try out one or more of our healthy picnic recipes—and you’ll enjoy lighter, healthier fare while you savor the great outdoors.