Take advantage of the warm weather by getting outdoors and having a picnic. This can be a great time to pack some healthy snacks, soak up the sun, and get some exercise. Don’t be tempted by the usual carb-loaded picnic choices like fried chicken and macaroni salad, there are plenty of healthy options when it comes to packing your picnic basket.

Below are some ideas to put a healthier spin on your picnic:

  • Dips can be an easy option to pack for a picnic, try some healthier choices like hummus, guacamole, salsa, or a yogurt-based dip to pair with baked chips, or sliced vegetables.
  • Pasta salad and potato salad are popular picnic choices but tend to be mayonnaise-based and high in calories. There are several ways to make these choices healthier: swap the mayonnaise for a light mayonnaise, yogurt, or vinaigrette. You can also use whole grain pasta, and add extra vegetables to your usual mix. Experiment with new recipes and lighten up this picnic favorite.
  • Sandwiches are another picnic favorite. Try using a whole wheat bread or wrap filled with lean protein, low fat cheese, and load up on the veggies.
  • Feeling adventurous? Find a recipe for a salad using a different type of grain like bulgur, wheat berry, quinoa, or barley as a base!

It’s also important to think about food safety when packing your picnic. Make sure to keep foods that should be refrigerated in a cooler with ice or ice packs and keep the temperature below 40 degrees. Once you take perishable foods out of the cooler, its best to throw them away if they have been unrefrigerated for over an hour. Bacteria thrive in the warm weather, so play it safe!

Enjoying the great outdoors can also be a great time to get in some physical activity. If possible, pack portable foods and walk or hike to your picnic area. Another great way to get moving is to play games. Adults can channel their inner child and set up a game of capture the flag or freeze tag in addition to the usual game of horseshoes. Bringing the family? Try duck, duck, goose or set up a scavenger hunt.

Here are few tips and tricks

  • While traveling, keep the cooler inside the car rather than the trunk, which could lead to food getting too warm to safely consume.
  • Pack the sunscreen. Don’t let sunburn ruin your good time, pre-apply and re-apply!
  • Keep it clean. Bring moist wipes or antibacterial hand sanitizer for cleanup after you eat.
  • For a healthy drink idea, try sparkling water with some fruit and mint for a refreshing addition to your meal.

Sources: Eatright.org and CNN.com.  The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.