July is National Picnic Month - whether you prefer a relaxing beach day or a weekend camping trip, picnic foods are an essential part of summer. Read on for tips on how to balance your picnic basket to keep you fueled and energized for any outdoor activity.
What’s a picnic without an abundance of sides to snack on? Though simple carbohydrates such as potato chips and crackers are convenient choices, try choosing whole grains, fruits, and veggies with more fiber to increase feelings of fullness and help prevent overeating. Power up your picnic basket even further by pairing these supportive carbs with a protein source for long-lasting energy.
Hamburgers and hotdogs are a crowd favorite for outdoor gatherings, but there are plenty of ways to get creative with the main course. Take advantage of all the fresh produce this summer and prepare a salad with seasonal fruits and vegetables, topped off with a lean protein like grilled chicken. (Try this Mediterranean pasta salad.)
Or go the simple route with sandwiches. Start by choosing a whole grain bread and upgrade your sandwich with veggies and a heart-healthy spread, such as hummus or avocado. (Need some inspiration? Check out this video for a quick Asian sesame chicken wrap. Or perk up your sandwich with these additional suggestions.)
Looking to add more seasonal produce? Here is a comprehensive list.
Refueling with plenty of fluid is necessary on a hot afternoon, but classic picnic beverages can contain significant added sugar. Swap the lemonade and soda for flavored sparkling water or infused water with lemon or herbs if you struggle to stay hydrated with water alone.
Guan Z-W, YU E-Z, Feng, Q. Soluble Dietary Fiber, One of the Most Important Nutrients for the Gut Microbiota. Molecules. 2021; 26(22):6802.
By Lydia Marks, MS, Dietetic Intern