Guess what today is? International Picnic Day! (I didn’t know either, I had to look it up).
Now that the days are longer and the weather warm and sunny (okay, we’re still waiting for the ‘warm and sunny’ in the Pacific Northwest…), your weekends are likely to include picnics, barbecues and other outdoor eating events. Always lots of fun, but usually a clean eating practitioner’s nightmare!
Potato salad, hot dogs and burgers, fried chicken, spinach dip, pasta salads, beer, chips and chocolate cake were the usual fare at my family’s holiday picnics. While I enjoy each of these ‘treats’ in moderation, indulging in all of them at a single meal would leave me feeling tired, bloated and unable to join in the after-dinner frisbee fun. Instead, I choose one or two to sample and stick with my standard clean eating selections to fill up my plate.
Tips for packing a clean eating picnic;
- Choose lean poultry and fish for grilling rather than burgers, sausage or hotdogs. Whip up a spicy marinade and the burger and bun crowd will be asking for some of what you’re eating! My family’s favourite? Low salt soy sauce, orange juice, sesame oil, fresh grated garlic and ginger and a bit of red wine vinegar. Marinade chicken or fish for 2-3 hours prior to grilling. Mmmmm!
- Rather than offering to provide the chips and dip, use your artistic sensibilities to create a mouth-watering vegetable platter. Colourful peppers, crisp broccoli and cauliflower, pea pods and radishes; the more variety and unique the veggies the more appealing the dish. Serve with a greek yogurt-herb dip or avocado and tomato guacamole.
- Substitute whole grain buns for the usual white. (Or forego the bun completely and save your starchy carbs for dessert!).
- Use low fat greek yogurt or ripe avocado in place of mayonnaise in creamy pasta or veggie salads. Tastes just as good without the extra calories and saturated fat. I make a killer salmon salad; canned wild sockeye, ripe avocado, lemon juice, diced onions and peppers. Combine and refrigerate for an hour or so.
- Brew up a pot of home made iced green tea. Experiment with flavoured teas and leave the sugar laden sodas at home.
- Instead of whipping up a batch of fudge brownies, try angel food cake served with fresh berries. No fat, about half the sugar (and calories) and a great way to showcase seasonal strawberries and raspberries!
- Slice up a giant watermelon for dessert. Kids (and grownups too!) love spitting the seeds; something they’re probably not allowed to do around the dinner table at home. High in water content, low in calories and lots of fun to eat! The perfect, clean eating picnic fare!
What’s your favourite picnic food?
Do you stick with your nutrition plan at barbecues and picnics?