As summer comes to an end and fall approaches, the temperature is shifting just enough to make eating outdoors more enjoyable. The fresh air combined with a healthy, well-balanced meal can add pleasure to any day. You just need a little planning to have a successful eating experience outdoors during these fall months.
First, you will want to choose a location, such as a local park, the beach, or your own backyard. This time of year, the sun can still heat things up, so look for a place with natural shade, picnic tables with umbrellas or bring your own portable tent. If there isn’t any seating, decide if you want to picnic on a blanket, towel, or bring lawn chairs.
When planning the food, keep the above tips in mind. Eating finger foods may be easier on a blanket versus trying to eat a full meal complete with a fork and knife. You’ll want to keep your cold foods cold, so store them in a cooler and out of the sun.
Try some of these foods at your next picnic:
- Veggie cups. Cut up celery, zucchini and asparagus sticks. Place a low-fat greek yogurt dip in the bottom of small plastic cups and stack the veggie sticks in the cup. This portable, single serving food is lower in carbohydrates and portion controlled.
- Medifast® popcorn. Choose individualized and convenient popcorn packets that are easy to throw in a bag or picnic basket. These fun snacks are a delicious and low-calorie addition to any picnic.
- Infused water. When dining outside, fill a few pitchers with water or seltzer water and add mint or cucumber for a light and refreshing drink. You can enjoy the infused water out of fancy plastic glasses to add an extra flare to your picnic.
- Veggie kabobs with optional lean meat. Kabobs are easy to make by cutting up your favorite veggies and placing them on a skewer. Grill them up ahead of time with your favorite marinade and serve them hot or cold at your picnic for a versatile option. Try this Lemon Scallion Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs recipe!
- Cheese platter. Cut up an assortment of low-fat cheeses, like low-fat cheddar or gouda. Keep portion sizes in check to 1-ounce portions or 3 dice. Pair the cheese with the Medifast crackers for an extra crunch.
When planning an outdoor picnic don’t forget to focus on those outdoor activities. Bring cornhole, bubbles, a kickball, volleyball or frisbee. These are games that everyone of all ages can enjoy! Have fun at your next picnic and let me know how it goes!
Jennifer Christman, RDN, LDN, CPT