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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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Picnics are a great way to enjoy the summer weather. When planning your picnic menu, you want to make sure you pick foods
that require limited preparation and don't need to be reheated once you get there. On a diet, this may seem a little tricky since a lot of ready-to-eat foods are higher in fat and calories. Here are some tips and ideas for some diet-friendly picnic foods.

Planning A Healthy Picnic

Entrees

Tuna or chicken salad sandwiches - make them with plain, non-fat Greek yogurt instead of mayo and you've made them much healthier. Or try an alternative kind of fish such as swordfish or tilapia salad sandwiches for a different spin.

Cold chicken sandwiches or kebabs - Grill chicken or kabobs ahead of time and refrigerate. Serve over salad, in a sandwich or on their own. You can season them anyway you like before you grill them. Just make sure you refrigerate them well before you take them to your picnic.

Deli Sandwich - You can either prep all the ingredients ahead of time and have a "make your own sandwich bar" at your picnic, or you can make them ahead of time with all the healthy ingredients piled on before you get to your destination.

For lunch meats, choose ones that are low in fat (turkey, ham, roast beef, chicken) and even better, choose ones that have low sodium options.

For condiments, choose ones that are low in calories such as mustard, hummus, bbq sauce or low fat mayo. Limit cheese on a
sandwich to 1 slice, as most cheeses will have at least 80 calories a slice, which can add up.

For add-ins, choose different kinds of greens, cooked and raw veggies (any kind), hot peppers or pepperoncinis, pickles, avocado or guacamole, or slices of apples for a sweet, crunchy addition. Pile all these ingredients onto light whole wheat bread, sandwich flats, low carb pitas or wraps. Or you can skip the bread and use the meat to make roll-ups.

Go veggie - a few options: tomato, mozzarella and basil sandwiches, hummus and roasted veggie or hummus and falafel roll-ups, peanut butter and jelly or grilled portobello or eggplant sandwiches.

Here's a recipe to try:

Curry Chicken salad with grapes*
Serves 4

Ingredients
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cooked and diced or shredded
1/2 stalk celery, diced
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons seedless green grapes, halved
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons non-fat plain Greek yogurt

Directions
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients. Mix all together. Serve on light whole wheat bread or sandwich thins.

* Adapted from https://allrecipes.com/recipe/fruity-curry-chicken-salad/detail.aspx

Salads

For every good meal, there needs to be a good salad. Salad doesn't have to be restricted to the garden variety. The term
salad can be associated with many different alternatives.

You can always have a garden salad as an addition to any picnic, or you can jazz it up with some roasted red peppers, toasted
nuts, grilled veggies, fruit and different kinds of cheeses. You can also get creative with your dressings. A vinaigrette can be made up of pretty much anything depending on what flavor you're going for.

Pasta salad is another staple that can also be creatively and healthfully altered. Mix it up by using whole wheat pasta or
cous cous instead of the traditional tri-color white pasta. Load up any pasta salad or alternative with lots of veggies so
you're sure to get a good helping with every scoop and use low fat dressings. You can also try seasoning them with different
herbs and spices instead of loading on the dressing. Reduced fat feta is one of my favorite cheeses to add to these types of salads.

If salad or pasta salad aren't what you're in the mood for, try an alternative kind of veggie salad that doesn't include
lettuce. Good combinations include tomato and cucumber, grilled veggie salad or you can try an avocado, black bean, corn and
tomato salad.

Here's a salad to try:

Watermelon and Feta Salad*

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounce container grape tomatoes, halved
3 cups arugula (or any other green of your choice)
1 cup sliced red onion
2 pounds watermelon, cubed
4 ounces reduced fat feta cheese

Directions
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, arugula, and onions; toss to coat.

Gently stir in the watermelon and feta cheese to serve. Enjoy!

*Adapted from: https://allrecipes.com/recipe/watermelon-feta-salad/

Desserts

What's a picnic without dessert? When it comes to health, desserts can sometimes be tricky. Here are a few suggestions to keep those calories down.

First of all, keep your portions small and cut calories in the preparation where you can without sacrificing taste or texture. If you are planning on making a cake product, substitute the oil or butter with Greek yogurt or pumpkin to cut calories. Choose to make something that contains a lot of fruit such as a tart, pie, cobbler or shortcake (substituting the pound cake or biscuit for angel food cake can save calories). Or you can keep it simple by making a fruit salad or fruit kebabs and dipping the fruit in chocolate syrup. No matter what you choose, it will be a hit.

Strawberry Yogurt Dip
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@ 9:37pm ET on October 30, 2014
All very good suggestions for a picnic

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