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Meghan Tiernan (MS, RD, LDN) is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle. She strives to help others learn the most nutritious way to eat, in order to achieve good health. Meghan enjoys cooking and running and believes that with just some basic knowledge, you can gain the confidence in yourself to know that you can eat well.

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Dietitian Consult
by Meghan Tiernan, MS, RD, LDN

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The 4th of July is right around the corner! Prepare yourself for a hot day of parade watching and keeping your energy up for the fireworks by planning a picnic with your family.

First thing you need to remember for a picnic is keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. You don't want the family getting sick because the food has gotten to that danger zone temperature between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you have something insulated for both hot and cold items such as lunch meats, any salads, hot dogs, other meats and cheeses, and anything made from dairy.

Once you've got your storage figured out, now it's time to plan the menu. As an entrée, try low sodium turkey wraps, wrapped in either lettuce or low carb tortillas, or keep it simple with light whole wheat bread and make peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Another option would be to have the family make their own yogurt parfaits with different kinds of yogurt, berries and cereals. Bring veggies cut up with low fat dip or hummus as well as low fat snacks like Baked or popped chips, soy crisps, Special K crackers or light popcorn. Try an alternative salad such as barley or quinoa salad with veggies, mozzarella cheese and low fat Italian dressing.

Bring lots of water to stay hydrated. Avoid those sugary drinks and sodas that pack on unnecessary calories. If you want to mix it up, try flavored waters instead or bring Crystal Light packets to fill the water bottles with.

Keep cool with cut up fruit, watermelon slices, pineapple slices or fruit kabobs. For a fun, low calorie alternative for dessert, try making a Jell-o watermelon! Make watermelon Jell-o according to package directions, pour in a shallow, round pan (one that's a little bigger works best), and refrigerate until set. Once set, dye Cool Whip with green food coloring and spread around the edges of the jell-o circle and sprinkle the inside with chocolate chips, then cut into slices and enjoy!

With all sorts of temptations at these kinds of events, maybe set a rule that everyone gets to choose one fun food they want. By being prepared and having a well balanced meal in addition to the fun food, you're not only encouraging a well balanced diet, but also keeping it fun for the entire family.

Have a Happy Independence Day!

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@ 7:52pm ET on June 29, 2012 It's another great day to celebrate! It's nice to plan ahead what food to prepare to maximize your time and budget but not the quality of food you'll going to prepare. It's should be still on your diet requirements.

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