How to Lighten up Your Picnic Basket

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Packing a picnic basket and heading to the beach, park or sporting event is a picture-perfect way to spend a spring afternoon. Traditional picnic foods, like mayonnaise-laden salads, hamburgers, fried chicken, greasy chips and indulgent brownies can ruin your diet. Don’t worry–with just a little tweaking you can still enjoy yummy picnic dishes without the guilt.

Get Your Greens…and Fruits

Add some color to your picnic basket and incorporate your favorite fruits and veggies into your outdoor menu. Strawberries, mangos, pineapples and apricots are all in season during the spring. So are tomatoes, corn, zucchini and peas. Here’s a tasty tip: make broccoli slaw instead of coleslaw, add some shredded carrots and toss with a lowfat poppy seed dressing for a great salad that will still be crunchy and delicious, and lower in calories than the typical coleslaw. Go for a healthier and more flavorful twist on pasta or potato salads by substituting colorful veggies for some or all of the starchy ingredients. And while you’re grilling up your turkey or veggie burgers, toss some Portobello mushrooms, red peppers, zucchini and onions into the mix. Grilled or roasted vegetables tossed with your favorite vinaigrette make a delicious side dish. More importantly, support your local vendors and producers by purchasing your picnic ingredients from local growers. It’s not only safer (even when it’s not organically grown, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large farms about using chemicals) and fresher (locally grown items are usually harvested one or two days before hitting the market, which makes them significantly fresher than traditional store bought ingredients.), but you can also feel good that you’re doing your part to help build your local community.

When Snacks Attack

You can still get the satisfying crunch you crave from chips without the greasy salt and fat. Pack the cooler and munch on crisp, raw veggies like carrots, sugar snap peas, radishes or cucumbers and pair with a cool, low fat dip or hummus. Baked tortilla chips and salsa and whole-wheat crackers topped with lowfat cheese are just a few more tasty snack ideas.

The Main Event

When you’re short on time, taking the quick and easy route may seem like the best solution. But picking up a bucket of fried chicken or a package of hot dogs and greasy burgers will leave you feeling lethargic and wishing you didn’t take the easy way out. Instead, take the extra time and whip up some wrap sandwiches. Stuff them with lean meat, veggies and a light dressing. Time not on your side? Just grab some frozen turkey burgers and turkey dogs—they have fewer calories and fat than beef burgers (skip the cheese and save even more calories). Or spice up bland chicken breast with mangos, peaches or flavored cooking sauces and marinades from Whole Foods Market and put in between a whole-wheat sandwich bun.

Sweet Treats

Desserts are the best part of any picnic basket. If noshing on luscious, juicy fruits isn’t satisfying your sweet tooth, there is hope! You can indulge in a cookie, brownie or piece of cake, but keep the portions small and don’t go back for seconds. Angel food cake topped with fresh berries and a dollop of whipped cream is another picnic favorite that is light on calories and full on taste!

Last, but not least, let Whole Foods Market put the finishing touches on your nutritious spring picnic basket. They have great value private label items and branded products. Choose from locally produced fruits and veggies, frozen turkey burgers, marinades, desserts and more. Don’t forget to use your coupons to get even more value! Now, pour yourself a refreshing glass of lemonade and enjoy the healthy picnic that you’ve prepared.

This article is from the Spring 2009 Simply Fresh Newsletter for Whole Foods Market Download PDF

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One Comment for “How to Lighten up Your Picnic Basket”

  • While it might not be a conventional picnic item to bring along, wasabi is a great way to spice up the basket. The amount of nutritional and health benefits that wasabi adds to any diet is extraordinary. Please contact me if you’d like any information about organic wasabi or how its benefits can impact a healthy lifestyle. Thanks!

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