5 Ways to Create Memorable Picnics with Health in Mind - Mercy Medical Center

5 Ways to Create Memorable Picnics with Health in Mind

Posted on: July 1, 2013

Good tasting and good for you are my goal when planning a picnic. It is easy to do if you savor the flavors of summer by taking advantage of foods naturally low in fat and full of flavor. Keep it simple, make it fresh, and use your imagination are rules for surviving the summer without added fat, cholesterol and calories.

Keep it simple

Choose foods that are easy to prepare and full of flavor. More is not necessarily better, it’s just more. Try grilling fresh marinated vegetables such as mushrooms, green or red peppers, zucchini and onions. Corn on the cob is fantastic when cooked in the husk over hot coals. Baked potatoes brushed with Italian salad dressing and toasted on the grill add a new twist to the low fat standard.

Make it fresh

Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of flavor, nutrients and naturally low in fat. Taking advantage of the low fat alternative mayonnaise and salad dressings available can change the high fat potato salad into a low fat treat. Make a fruit plate with strawberries, kiwi, fresh pineapple and melon, or better yet, make fruit kabobs. Serve them with a delicious dip made with low-fat strawberry-kiwi flavor yogurt mixed with a little fat free strawberry cream cheese.

Use your imagination

Try modifying your own favorite recipes like baked beans made with Canadian bacon instead of regular high fat bacon. Change high fat vegetable dips into low fat alternatives by selecting a reduced fat sour cream instead of the regular high fat version. Angel food cake drizzled with chocolate syrup or fresh berries and topped with a low fat whipped topping is a refreshing change from the store bought brownies. You can add a little sherbet, low fat ice cream or non-fat yogurt for a special treat.

Start lean, stay lean

Select leaner cuts of meat and look for the meat with the least amount of marbling. When making hamburgers, buy ground round, ground sirloin or ground beef that is at least 90% lean. Try buffalo: It’s very lean and taste very similar to beef or perhaps a veggie burger for a healthy alternative. If grilling steaks, remember to trim off all visible fat before cooking. London broil, flank steak and filet are naturally lean cuts. Chicken is a very lean favorite when marinated and grilled. If you prefer to cook it with the skin, no problem, just remember to remove the skin before eating. Don’t forget about grilling fresh seafood. Shrimp, crab or fish cook quickly and have a great flavor when marinated or seasoned. For ease of turning you may want to use a grilling basket or grid when cooking fish.

Stay active

You may not want to run a mile that day, but don’t forget about picnic activities. A friendly game of yard darts, volleyball, badminton, or croquet can be a great way to burn calories, socialize and have fun. Also if you keep moving, you are likely to eat less. Many people eat out of boredom or just because it is there.

Picnics are a great way to enjoy friends and family. Yours can be relaxing and fun without sabotaging your health or weight. Have fun.

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