You finally did it! You’ve got a date scheduled. Look at you!
What is your activity of choice? A summer picnic in the park. Now you just have to prepare and pack some delicious food. The only problem is…
Never fear. We’ve got your back. Here are some tips to help you fix a nutritious (and delicious) outdoor meal.
1. Taste the rainbow.
During summer, fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful. They are also really good for you! Fruits and vegetables are naturally low-calorie and a guilt-free way to bulk-up your meals. They also contain lots of antioxidants and fiber, which aids in digestion. According to the USDA, more than 30 different varieties of fruits and vegetables are in-season during the summer. This includes watermelon, apples, strawberries, and green beans. Fill up your picnic basket with a colorful fruit salad paired with vanilla yogurt dip.
2. Pack in the protein, fiber, and vitamins.
Impress your picnic partner with your nutrition savvy. Opt for a healthful main dish like a whole wheat wrap filled with veggies and lean protein. Whether it’s chicken or tofu, protein keeps you feeling full and supports your muscle growth. You can add a variety of other ingredients, such as sun-dried tomatoes, spinach leaves, cucumbers, avocados, and grated cheese. Pair with a tomato mozzarella salad. Here is a simple recipe:
What You’ll Need:
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1⁄2 lb fresh mozzarella cheese (if all you can find is the tub, make sure to pat it real dry)
- 1⁄2 cup torn basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- kosher salt or sea salt, to taste
Directions: Cut up the tomatoes and mozzarella into small cubes. Add the basil leaves, vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle on a little salt and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
3. Add a dash of activity.
To work up an appetite, incorporate physical activity into your day in the great outdoors. A study published in The American Journal of Medicine found that, for most Americans, physical activity can protect against weight gain. It also lowers the health-related risks associated with obesity and abdominal obesity. Toss a Frisbee, throw a football, or play a rousing game of bocce. It’s fun and good for you.
4. Keep it safe
Prepping, packing, and transporting food to a picnic should be done carefully. Giving your date food poisoning is not a great look. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers tips on how to keep your food safe when you don’t have a refrigerator or freezer available:
- Put cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Keep your cooler at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth.
- Put beverages in a separate cooler from any perishable food. As picnickers open and reopen the beverage cooler, perishable foods won’t be continuously exposed to the warm outdoor temperatures.
- Clean your produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cooler – including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth towel or a paper towel.
Now you’re armed with all the tools you need for a successful picnic. Get out there in the warm, fresh air, and enjoy the day with a special someone.
This article was written by Laura Kubitz and reviewed by Kris Sollid, RD.