Tips for packing a clean eating picnic

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;

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. Substitute whole grain buns for the usual white. (Or forego the bun completely and save your starchy carbs for dessert!).
  4. 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.
  5. Brew up a pot of home made iced green tea. Experiment with flavoured teas and leave the sugar laden sodas at home.
  6. 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!
  7. 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?

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    the child and I will happily follow suit.
    Miz recently posted…Thirty days till 43.My Profile

    • I love that there’s a holiday for almost every day in the year! Fun to find out what they are a celebrate, even in a little way! Enjoy your picnic!

  2. GREAT! Now for somebody to do that all for me so I don’t have to do it! 😉

    PS: Still can’t see tweet even before I comment – craziness!!! 😉
    Jody – Fit at 54 recently posted…Gratitude Monday, Father’s Day & Guest PostMy Profile

    • Well, all I can say is that websites and html sometimes to weird things! Thanks for re-tweeting Jody!

  3. I do try to stick to healthy eats. I love picnics. We sort of had one over the weekend at the lake. That counts right 😉

    • Absolutely! I’m still waiting for summer to break out my picnic basket, but a girl can always hope!

  4. Yes, forego mayo and go with plain yogurt! Hmmm, I see a post on what to pack for an upcoming flight in your future! Forget airport food and bag your own good stuff!
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…Workout for DadsMy Profile

    • Ha! That post is already written and scheduled to appear on Thursday (a little before I get on the plane…).
      And I’ve just done my grocery store trip to fill my purse with healthy eats for the flight! See you soon!

  5. I recently attended my son’s school picnic, and although there was the usual hamburgers and hotdogs, I was impressed to see the addition of veggie burgers as well. Plus, there were delicious plates of fresh fruits set up and little packs of trail mix instead of chips. Was a nice change from the usual high-calorie fare.
    crubin recently posted…A Glass Half-Empty StrollMy Profile

    • Ok, the healthy stuff was there, but did anybody EAT it?
      I find that the carrots and fruit tends to be taken home by the parents at my kids’ school picnics…

      • Actually, this fruit was so visually appealing–big chunks of watermelon, sliced oranges, huge strawberries, fresh bananas–that believe it or not, people did eat it. And given that was the only side besides the little bags of trail mix, people happily consumed it with their burgers. It was really nice to see. I was impressed and grateful for their effort.
        crubin recently posted…A Glass Half-Empty StrollMy Profile

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever done a proper picnic. Most of the time we just grab sandwiches, bag of chips and go sit somewhere. I want the traditional blanket, a basket and some ants.

    Great post.
    PavementRunner recently posted…Cheers to Charlotte (@Char__Latte)!My Profile

  7. We love picnics… I often make up what I call Bento Box lunches and off we go… usually a grain based salad with crunchy veggies and canned diced tomatoes. A hard boiled egg and some baby carrots to munch.

    Also bottled water and a thermos of tea or coffee to take along… and perhaps a protein cookie or ball to have with it later.

    Great post!

    Happy International Picnic Day to you too.. who knew?

    • That’s my kind of picnic Elle! I also love to visit my local organic market to find a few ‘treats’ to pack too. Something that we wouldn’t ordinarily have in the cupboard but still healthy and fun to eat!

  8. Great tips! We love watermelon for desert. I tend to stick to my healthy eating habits at BBQs, picnics, and other summer functions. I might have a beer or two though… 😉
    Kerri O recently posted…WARNING: Top 5 Dangers of Doing Jillian Michaels Body RevolutionMy Profile

  9. I like to make pavlova for dessert. It’s basically whipped egg whites with sugar and light cream, then berries on top. My husband makes the best. It’s a new zealand dessert for sure! So light and refreshing. We also like to bring veggies and hummus or salsa. Ok now i am hungry!
    lindsay recently posted…This is how I #PROOFedMy Profile