Note: This article was written by Courtney Meier and Emily Hofer, two dietetic interns that worked with me this week at the Worthington Hy-Vee.
Summer is a time when everyone wants to be healthy, active and outdoors. Along with these activities come grilling, picnics and get-togethers centered around food and drinks, most of which are not so healthy. Here are a few tips to help you incorporate some healthier options into your next summer gathering.
o Bring a fruit salad or veggie tray.
Fruit and veggie trays are both easy options to offer something a little more nutritious to you and your guests. They are easy to prepare and add a spark of color to the table. Fruit dips made with low-fat or nonfat Greek yogurt, and veggie dips made with low-fat cream cheese, can help add a little more flavor.
- Emily’s choice for fruit dip is plain nonfat Oikos Greek yogurt (5.3-ounce container) with 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter, ½ tablespoon honey and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon.
- Courtney’s choice for veggie dip is a 5.3-ounce container of plain nonfat Oikos Greek yogurt mixed with a 1-ounce package of dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dips Mix.
Ground beef or turkey that is 90% lean, such as Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey or Hy-Vee 90% lean ground beef, are very healthy options for grilling. Smart Chicken products are less processed and lower in sodium. For steak options, sirloin is a leaner cut. Al Fresco chicken sausage can be a good substitute for brats, and Oscar Meyer Selects Turkey Franks are a healthier hot dog variety. Be sure to watch out for the sodium content when picking any meat though; less than 140 mg of sodium per serving is desired. Pair any of these meats with a Sara Lee 80 Calories and Delightful wheat bun for added nutrition.
o Make a healthier salad
Potato and pasta salads might taste good, but they are full of saturated fat (the bad fat) and sodium. Mrs. Gerry’s Potato Salad has 3 grams of saturated fat and 420 milligrams of sodium in just a half-cup serving. Instead of indulging in these options, look for salads with vinegar or oil-based dressings, and incorporate extra vegetables. Here is a nutritious potato salad recipe from the Mayo Clinic:
- 1 pound potatoes, diced and boiled or steamed
- 1 large yellow onion, minced (1 cup)
- 1 large carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
- 2 ribs celery, diced (1/2 cup)
- 2 tablespoons minced dill
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise (such as Kraft Mayo with Olive Oil Reduced Fat)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Serve chilled. Makes 8 servings (3/4 cup each).
Potato chips are something everyone loves at a picnic. However, there are so many different varieties of chips that it can be hard to know what to look for. When picking out chips, check the ingredient label and look for ingredients such as “whole grain.” This can include whole corn, rice, quinoa, wheat, barley and many more. Products that contain added ingredients such as flax seed or chia seed are even more nutritious.
- Emily’s choice is Garden Salsa Sun Chips, which contain whole corn as an ingredient.
- Courtney’s choice is Food Should Taste Good Multigrain chips, which have added ingredients including flax seed, quinoa, soy and brown rice.
o Watch your portions – Don’t graze!
One of the easiest ways to overeat at a picnic is to go back for seconds, and thirds. To prevent this, fill your plate once, with mostly healthy options, and then walk away from the table to eat. Also, remember to eat slowly so you can enjoy your food and feel more full before you have time to return for another plate.
Eating healthy in the summer is easier than you think if you plan ahead. Following these few, easy tips will provide tasty, healthy options for you and your guests this summer.